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Jan Mostaert (Haarlem 1475 - Haarlem? 1555-1556)

Mostaert was born in Haarlem, probably in 1475, to a noble family. He trained with the local painter Jacob von Haarlem and his progress is documented from 1500, when he received a commission to decorate the receptacle housing the relics of Saint Bavo in the Groote Kerk, Haarlem. Records show that he was a member of the local painters’ guild of Saint Luke from 1502 to 1549, holding the post of deacon for the first time in 1507.
His early work closely followed the stiff style of Geerten tot Sint Jans, but later he was influenced by the more refined manner of Joachim Patinir, so much so that some works are not easily attributed to the one or the other. In 1518 Archduchess Margaret of Austria, who lived at Mechlin, named Mostaert peintre d’honneur. According to the well-known biographer Karel van Mander, Mostaert remained in Margaret’s service for eighteen years. The last documented reference to him indicates he was still working in 1549. He is believed to have died in the city of his birth in 1555 or 1556.
Mostaert was one of the most famous landscape artists and portraitists of his time. He is best-known now for his West Indies Landscape (Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem). This large canvas, probably painted around 1545, was the first depiction, albeit a fanciful one, of the New World and was based on various accounts of the newly discovered continent that he was able to gather at the court of Margaret of Austria.


Alessandro Zuccari