Haarlem 1628 - Amsterdam 1658


Cornelis Visscher enjoyed a brief career of about a decade, but during this period produced some two hundred prints alongside a several dozen drawings. He was probably a pupil of the Haarlem painter and printmaker Pieter Claesz. Soutman, and entered the painter’s guild in Haarlem in 1653. A few years later, however, he moved to Amsterdam. Active as a prolific printmaker from around 1649 onwards, Visscher was also, from 1652, a celebrated portrait draughtsman. (Only three early portraits dating from between 1649 and 1651 are known.) As the scholar William Robinson has noted, ‘The fine, polished manner of Visscher’s drawings simulates the cool, hard light, meticulous finish, and astonishing effects of detail and texture captured in his prints.’ Visscher produced portrait drawings and prints of both a formal and an informal nature, and his signed and dated portrait drawings, often executed in black chalk on vellum and highly finished, were likely commissioned by clients and intended as autonomous works of art. Although best known for his portraits, Visscher also produced a handful of allegorical and historical scenes, genre subjects, landscapes and animal studies, both of his own invention and based on the work of other artists. He died in January 1658 at the age of twenty-nine, survived by his brothers Jan de Visscher and Lambert Visscher, who were also artists.