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Breenbergh, Bartholomeus

Deventer, 1598 - Amsterdam, 1657

He was the son of a pharmacist settled in the city of Deventer. After the death of his father around 1607, the family decided to leave the city. He possibly began his training in Amsterdam in the workshop of one of the numerous landscape painters then active in the city, now unknown. According to his own testimony, in 1620 he moved to Rome, where he remained more than seven years. There he produced the so-called Italianate landscape and, together with Cornelius van Poelenburch (around 1586–1667), was one of the founders of Bentvueghels. This was an association of Nordic artists residing in Rome, where they were all known by different nicknames; his was ‘The ferret’. Despite being born and raised in a Protestant family, he became a Catholic in Rome. The exact date of his return to Holland is unknown. Nevertheless, it must have been before 1633, since he married R. Schellingwou in Amsterdam that year, the daughter of a cloth merchant whose mother was a convert to Catholicism. After his return to Italy, he focused primarily on history painting in the style of Pieter Lastman (1583–1633), Jacob Pynas (around 1585–1650) and Claes Moeyaert (1590/91–1655), which was successful at that time in Amsterdam. In addition, he must have engaged in trade, since he was registered as a merchant between 1652 and 1655. The houses he lived in during the last ten years of his life were located on the city’s fashionable canals, proof of his high status. He was buried on 5 October 1657 in the Oude Kerk (Posada, T., Pintura Holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado, 2009, pág. 253).

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