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Johann Liss

about 1595 - 1631

Liss was one of the leading northern European painters active in Italy in the early 17th century. His earliest paintings are Dutch-inspired interior scenes, but in Italy Liss developed a more expressive and forceful style characterised by extreme freedom of handling. The National Gallery's 'Judith in the Tent of Holofernes' was probably painted at the end of his time in Rome in the 1620s.

Liss was from Holstein in Germany. He spent his formative years in Holland and Antwerp (probably about 1615-19) before travelling to Paris and then to Venice, where his presence is recorded in 1621. He was active in Rome in the 1620s and a member of the Schildersbent, the association of northern artists there. The work of Rubens, which Liss saw in Antwerp, of Domenico Fetti, who died in Venice in 1623, and of Caravaggio and his followers in Rome were important for the evolution of Liss's style. He died in Venice of the plague in 1629/30.