* 1576 Courtrai
† 1639 Utrecht
Roelandt Savery counts among the greatest landscape painters of late Dutch Mannerism.
Roelandt Savery was born at the Flemish town Courtrai in 1576. He received first lessons in art from his six years older brother and student of Hans Bol, Jacob Savery. Next to these two artists, he was particularly influenced by the works of the Brueghels (Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Jan Brueghel) as well as by the landscape painter Gillis van Coninxloo.
In 1591 the young painter relocated to Amsterdam where he was active with his brother and the master Hans Bol. After a sojourn in Vienna (1602), documents mention Roelandt Savery in Prague in 1603, where he had been promoted court painter of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. By his majesty's appointment he traveled through Tyrol between 1606 and 1608, which is proof for the painter's great acknowledgement from the emperor. After the emperor's death, Roelandt Savery remained in court services and painted for Holy Roman Emperor Matthias in Vienna as of 1614. In 1616, however, he went back to Holland, and in 1619 Roelandt Savery settled in Utrecht. The books of the painters' gild mention him as master.
In his works, of which, due to the great demand, several versions were often made, Roelandt Savery combines realistic and imaginative elements of flora and fauna and creates almost paradisiacal landscape allegories ("Empire of Peace"). Many his landscapes show overgrown ruins and biblical or mythological staffage, which were at times executed by a hand other than that of the artist, a then typical way of division of labor. Abundant animal staffage open a panopticon of domestic and exotic species on sunny clearances. During his journey through Tyrol he made impressive mountain landscapes and study sheets.
Next to the marvelously endowed landscapes, the Utrecht years of Roelandt Savery were also coined by hunting scenes, as well as village and fun fair scenes, city views and flower pieces. Most of his works made between 1602 and 1634 were signed and dated.
Roelandt Savery was a popular and highly esteemed artist, both during his lifetime and posthumously. In 1626 the province of Utrecht bought one of his paintings for the remarkable price of 700 Guilders as a wedding present for the Princess of Orange Nassau. In 1644 one of his animal pictures realized a higher price than a landscape by the much-celebrated Rembrandt.
Unfortunately, Roelandt Savery did not live to witness this triumph. The painter die at Utrecht in 1639.