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Gerrit van Honthorst

Gerrit van Honthorst

*  1590 Utrecht
† 1656 Utrecht

With Gerrit Hermansz. van Honthorst one of the most important Northern Alpine Caravaggisti was born in Utrecht in 1590. The son of a Catholic decoration painter received first lessons from his father and then served an apprenticeship with Abraham Bloemaert.
At a young age Gerrit van Honthorst (Gerard van Honthorst) went to Rome, where documents mention him in 1616. In the Eternal City Gerrit van Honthorst, who was supported by high-ranked persons, came in contact with the art of Caravaggio and his epigones. Deeply impressed by the light contrasts and the crude realism of the Caravaggisti, Gerrit van Honthorst soon made nocturnal scenes in this new style, for instance for the Roman church Santa Maria della Scala. In Italy the young Dutchman was soon called Gherardo della Notte or Gherardo delle Notti, "Gerrit of the Night".
After he had taken on this new style, Gherardo della Notte left Italy in 1620 and returned to Utrecht where he was a founding father of the "Utrecht Caravaggisti" in order to introduce Caravaggio's innovations in Holland. Two years later, in 1622, Gerrit van Honthorst, who had married in the meantime, opened his own workshop which brought forth numerous caravaggesque scenes, genre pieces and portraits as well as allegories and mythological paintings. The popularity of Gerrit van Honthorst grew steadily, in 1627 even Peter Paul Rubens visited the painter.
Gerrit van Honthorst was also in great demand abroad: Charles I of England invited him in 1628 to be active at his court for half a year. Further international commissions followed soon and Gerrit van Honthorst was active in Bohemia and Denmark over the following years.
In 1637 Gerrit van Honthorst (Gerard van Honthorst) moved to The Hague where he opened a second workshop. In 1652 he returned to his hometown where he died four years later.