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Hendrick de Keyser

(1565—1621)


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(b Utrecht, 15 May 1565; d Amsterdam, 15 May 1621).

The outstanding Dutch sculptor and one of the leading Dutch architects of his period. Most of his career was spent in Amsterdam, where he was appointed municipal sculptor and architect in 1594. His most important buildings are the Zuiderkerk (South Church, 1606–14), Holland's first large Protestant church, and the Westerkerk (West Church, 1620–38), which broke with the Mannerist tradition, looking forward to the classicism of Jacob van Campen. The splendid towers of these two churches are still among Amsterdam's chief landmarks. As a sculptor, de Keyser excelled particularly as a portraitist in a soberly realistic style (Unknown Man, 1608, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), but his best-known work is the tomb of William the Silent (1614–21) in the Niewe Kerk at Delft. Thomas de Keyser (b ?Amsterdam, c.1597; bur. Amsterdam, 7 June 1667), Hendrick's son and pupil, was Amsterdam's municipal architect from 1662 until his death (he added the cupola to van Campen's town hall), but he is better known as a portrait painter. He was, indeed, Amsterdam's leading portraitist before being overtaken in popularity by Rembrandt in the 1630s. His life-size portraits look stiff compared with Rembrandt's and he is more attractive and original on a small scale. Constantijn Huygens and His Clerk (1627, NG, London) is an excellent example of his small portraits of full-length figures in an interior, forerunners of the conversation piece. His small equestrian portraits were also a new type (Pieter Schout, 1660, Rijksmuseum). Two other sons of Hendrick, Pieter (1595–1676) and Willem (1603–after 1678), were sculptors. Willem worked for some years in England, probably with Nicholas Stone, Hendrick's son-in-law and former pupil.


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