Thomas De Keyser - Encyclopedia

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THOMAS DE KEYSER (1596 or 1 597166 7), Dutch painter, was born at Amsterdam, the son of the architect and sculptor Hendrik de Keyser. We have no definite knowledge of his training, and but scant information as to the course of his life, though it is known that he owned a basalt business between 1640 and 1654. Aert Pietersz, Cornelis vanider Voort, Werner van Valckert and Nicolas Elias are accredited by different authorities with having developed his talent; and M. Karl Woermann, who has pronounced in favour of Nicolas Elias is supported by the fact that almost all that master's pictures were formerly attributed to De Keyser, who, in like fashion, exercised some influence upon Rembrandt when he first went to Amsterdam in 1631. De Keyser chiefly excelled as a portrait painter, though he also executed some historical and mythological pictures, such as the "Theseus" and "Ariadne" in the Amsterdam town hall. His portraiture is full of character and masterly in handling, and often, as in the "Old Woman" of the Budapest gallery, is distinguished by a rich golden glow of colour and Rembrandtesque chiaroscuro. Some of his portraits are life-size, but the artist generally preferred to keep them on a considerably smaller scale, like the famous "Group of Amsterdam Burgomasters" assembled to receive Marie de' Medici in 1638, now at the Hague museum. The sketch for this important painting, together with three other drawings, was sold at the Gallitzin sale in 1783 for the sum of threepence. The German emperor owns an "Equestrian Portrait of a young Dutchman," by De Keyser, a late work which in general disposition and in the soft manner of painting recalled the work of Cuyp. Similar pictures are in the Dresden and Frankfort museums, in the Heyl collection at Worms, and the Liechtenstein Gallery in Vienna. The National Gallery, London, owns a characteristic portrait group of a "Merchant with his Clerk"; the Hague museum, besides the group already referred to, a magnificent "Portrait of a Savant," and the Haarlem museum a fine portrait of "Claes Fabricius." At the Ryks Museum in Amsterdam there are no fewer than twelve works from his brush, and other important examples are to be found in Brussels, Munich, Copenhagen and St Petersburg.

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