The art of engraving blossomed in the Dutch town of Haarlem at the end of the 1500s.
Engraving played a major role in Dutch art, both as a source of inspiration and as an independent art form. Working together with a top team of masterful engravers, such as Jacob de Gheyn and Jacob Matham, Hendrik Goltzius brought Haarlem mannerism into print, thereby ensuring its renown around the world.
The style emerged during the years 1588-90 in the study group established by Hendrik Goltzius, Cornelis van Haarlem and Karel van Mander. They wished to integrate the principles of Italian art into their own domestic brand of painting; the works of painter Bartholomeus Spranger in particular were interpreted by the Haarlem mannerists. Bartholomeus Spranger was the court painter for Emperor Rudolph II, and the Haarlem artists spent one year working together with the artist.
Bartholomeus Spranger’s work was epoch-making for Haarlem arts. The nonchalant elegance and erotic sensitivity typical of his paintings challenged the Haarlem printmakers to develop new techniques that would enable them to imitate Spranger’s style and his lifelike figures using printmaking tools. It was this process that led to the emergence of the defining characteristic of Haarlem printmaking: the rich, full lines.
The task of integrating Spanger’s mannerism into the art of Haarlem resulted in a series of major works characterised by both the fantastically orchestrated positions and extreme muscularity of the figures, and the intense drama of the images. Haarlem mannerism was born.
Read more about Hendrick Goltzius and the print as a medium by clicking on the links below: