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Marten van Heemskerck

1498 - 1574

Van Heemskerck was the leading Haarlem painter of the mid-16th century. He was a prolific author of portraits, altarpieces and mythological scenes, as well as an influential draughtsman and printmaker. He was deeply influenced by Michelangelo, and by younger Italian artists such as Pontormo.

Van Heemskerck was a native of Haarlem born, according to his biographer van Mander, in 1498. He was a pupil or assistant of Jan van Scorel, from whom he learnt an Italianate style. His understanding of Italian and ancient art was intensified by a visit to Rome in 1532-6, when he recorded the monuments of the city in a series of famous drawings. These constitute a valuable record of Renaissance Rome, and show for instance stages in the rebuilding of St Peter's before the interventions of Michelangelo. In 1540 he became dean of the Haarlem painters' guild.