Pieter Lastman (1583-1633)
Pieter Lastman spent his early years as an artist in Italy. Biographer Karel van Mander mentions the fact in his Schilderboeck (Book of Painters) of 1604. When he returned to Amsterdam in 1607, Lastman was hailed as a connoisseur of Italian art. He painted biblical and mythological scenes, paying special attention to the landscape. Lastman's work fetched high prices in his day. Danish king Christian IV, an art collector, commissioned three biblical scenes. Lastman had a profound influence on his pupils and contemporaries and was highly regarded in the 17th century. Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel called him the Apelles of our century, after the celebrated Ancient Greek painter. Yet the artist's star faded and he was later known mainly as the master who taught Rembrandt and Jan Lievens.