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Thomas de Keyser

Thomas de Keyser

*  1596 Amsterdam
† 1667 Amsterdam

Thomas de Keyser, one of Amsterdam's most important artists before Rembrandt established his workshop there, was born in Amsterdam in either 1596 or 1597. He was born son of an artist family, his father was no lesser than Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621), in his days a very famous architect and sculptor, who also took care of the education of Thomas de Keyser and his two brothers Pieter de Keyser and Willem de Keyser, who both followed in their father's footsteps as architects and sculptors. Thomas Hendricksz. de Keyser, on contrary, specialized in painting, to be more exact, on portray painting. His first work is dated 1619.
Early works by Thomas Hendricksz. de Keyser still show the influence of Cornelis Ketel, Cornelis van der Voort and Nicolas Eliasz. Group portraits, a typical portrait genre in pre-bourgeois Holland, but also individual portraits were in the center of Thomas Hendricksz. de Keyser's attention. His paintings in modest colors, in which the portrayed people appear in black dresses with white collars, the contemporary taste in fashion, in front of a grand background, are of an exhilarant liveliness as far as faces, postures and gestures are concerned.
In his early days in Amsterdam Rembrandt was geared to Thomas de Keyser, in return, competition with Rembrandt became perceptible in the works by Thomas de Keyser from the 1630s.
After 1640 the production of Thomas Hendricksz. de Keyser's painting ceased. It was in those days that he increasingly focussed on the Basalt trade, an enterprise he operated together with his brother Pieter de Keyser. In 1662 Thomas de Keyser was appointed town master mansion.
In 1667 Thomas de Keyser died in Amsterdam.