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Otto van Veen

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Otto van Veen

*  1556 Leiden
† 1629 Brüssel


Otto van Veen, also known by the latinized form of his name (Octavius Vaenius or Otto Venius), was a famous painter, graphic artist and emblem maker of Flemish Mannerism and early baroque. He also made history as teacher of Peter Paul Rubens.
Otto van Veen was born at Leiden in 1556, where served a first apprenticeship with Isaac Claesz Swanenburgh (until 1572). In 1573 Otto van Veen transferred to the studio of Dominique Lampsonius and Jean Ramey in Liége. Two years later, in 1575, the young Otto van Veen embarked on a five-years journey through Italy, which presumably took him to Federico Zuccari. After 1580 Octavius Vaenius presumably was in Munich, as of 1583 he was in service of Ernest of Bavaria. For 1585 documents record Otto Venius as court painter of the proconsul Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma in Brussels.
In 1592 Otto van Veen moved to Antwerp, where he led the Gild of St. Luke in 1593/94 as master and as dean in 1602. In Antwerp Otto Venius operated a prospering workshop, where no lesser than Peter Paul Rubens received training in art (both as apprentice and assistant between 1596 and 1598). In 1599 Otto Venius was promoted to "the archduke's painter" in service of the ducal couple Albrecht and Isabella. In 1615 Otto Venius relocated to Brussels, where he is recorded as member of the painters gild in 1620.
In his early years between the 1580s and his emigration to Antwerp (1592) Otto van Veen's painting stood in the tradition of Dutch and Roman Mannerism. The Antwerp period of creation until 1613 was characterized by altar compositions, in which he successfully made the step from italicizing Mannerism to Flemish early baroque. Otto Venius also made a few exact portray paintings. Octavius Vaenius' activities as publisher of large engravings and emblematic books were also important for the development of Flemish baroque.
Otto van Veen died at Brussels in 1629.