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Hans Rottenhammer

Mar - 13 - 2013

Portrait of Hans Rottenhammer by Lucas Killian

He was born in Munich, where he studied until 1588 under Hans Donauer the Elder. In 1593-4 (and perhaps earlier) he was in Rome, and he then settled in Venice from 1595-6 to 1606, before returning to Germany and settling in Augsburg, working also in Munich. He died in Augsburg, apparently in some poverty, and according to some sources an alcoholic.
Rottenhammer was, with Elsheimer, amongst the most famous of the German painters active in Italy at the turn of the 17th century. Like Elsheimer, Rottenhammer succeeded in Italy with small-scale paintings on copper, such as ‘The Coronation of the Virgin’. It is for these that he is best known today. He specialised in religious and mythological subjects.
He was the first German artist to specialize in cabinet paintings. In Rome he knew the earlier members of the Bamboccianti, a circle of Northern artists (before the name itself arose), and remained in regular contact with Paul Brill, a Flemish artist living in Rome, sending him plates with the figures painted on for Brill to supply the landscape, according to a dealer’s letter of 1617. He also collaborated with Jan Brueghel the Elder in a similar way. He was commissioned in 1600 to paint a Feast of the Gods for Emperor Rudolph II (now Hermitage). A good example of his early style, in which he approaches Tintoretto, is his Death of Adonis in the Louvre.


Flight into Egypt by Rottenhammer (figures) and Jan Brueghel the Elder (landscape)

Rottenhammer was trained in Munich, and remained active there until 1588. He was in Rome until about 1595/6, and then in Venice until 1606, where his best-known works were produced and where he was especially influenced by Tintoretto.He subsequently worked again in Germany, painting large-scale narratives and allegories in Augsburg and Munich, where he died.
Among his noted works are those painted for Emperor Rudolph II of Austria: Nativity (1608), Battle Between Centaurs and Lapithæ, and four others, in the Vienna Museum.
There are paintings in the main galleries in London, Munich , Augsburg, Berlin, Cambridge, St Petersberg, Amsterdam , Schwerin, Milan, Los Angeles, Dunedin and elsewhere. Most of his altarpieces and decorative schemes can still be seen in situ.


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