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16th Century Artist: Caterina Van Hemessen

732 words - 3 pages

Caterina van Hemessen was the daughter of the famous Flemish painter Jan Sanders van Hemessen. Despite the obstacles facing women in art (as well as society as a whole) in the Renaissance era, van Hemessen made a successful career and name for herself as a portrait painter. While she produced many widely respected works, she is best known for being one of the first and very few females to successfully pursue a career in art in the 16th century.
Caterina van Hemessen was born around 1528 around the Flemish city of Antwerp in modern day Belgium. She is the earliest female painter of the Northern Renaissance to have work attributed to her. In the Renaissance era, education and training in ...view middle of the document...

The city drew merchants and businessmen from all over Europe. The tolerant atmosphere that drew a large Jewish population to the city in the 15th and 16th century also led to a cosmopolitan culture conducive to the acceptance of a woman artist.
Van Hemessen was most well known for her portrait painting. She was known for her realism in her portraits. Most of the subjects of her paintings were featured sitting down with a dark background. Her most famous work is her own self portrait which is believed to be the first self-portrait of a man or woman depicting the artist sitting down and painting. She earned many commissions from painting the portraits of wealthy men and women of the era. She was well respected by her peers, as evidenced by her acceptance in the Guild of St. Luke’s. In 1554, at the age of 26 which was an advanced age for the time, van Hemessen married Christian de Morien. Christian de Morien held the highly respected position of organist at the Antwerp Cathedral. Most believe she ended her career as a painter upon getting...

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