* 1465 Löwen
† 1530 Antwerpen
Quentin Massys, also known as Quentin Matsys, Metsys or Messys, counts among the most influential artist figures of Renaissance painting in Antwerp (Antwerp School). Next to Hieronymus Bosch he is regarded the most important Dutch painter of the 16th century.
Quentin Matsys was born at Löwen in either 1465 or 1466. Reports mention him as blacksmith apprentice in his hometown. However, he fell in love with the daughter of an artist and decided to become a painter as well. Archives mention Quentin Massys again in Antwerp after 1491, where he was active as freelance master and a member of the gild.
Early works by Quentin Massys show a proximity to old Dutch art in the manner of, for instance, Dieric Bouts or Hans Memling. His main works, made around the first decade of the 16th century, show a more mature style. During this period of creation Quentin Massys managed to combine the precision of the old Dutch era with the innovations of Italian Renaissance and to create a very own style characterized by a strong individuality, a psychological account of the depicted figures and a subtle coloring.
Next to religious paintings, Quentin Messys was predominantly active as genre painter. Some of his genre pictures with their "funny figures" are almost caricatures and were popular and frequently copied. In this genre, often rendered in half figure, Quentin Massys became one of the most influential figures in his days.
This is also where the influence of Italian Renaissance on his work becomes obvious. Particularly Leonardo da Vinci's painting has left traces in Quentin Massy's art. Whether Quentin Metsys encountered da Vinci's works on a journey to Italy is unknown.
Quentin Massys, whose sons were born in 1509 and around 1510, both followed in his father's footsteps, died at Antwerp in 1530.