Adam Elsheimer Germany
3-18-1578 Frankfurt, GER – 12-11-1610 Rome, ITABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Adam Elsheimer was apprenticed to the artist Philipp Uffenbach. He probably visited Strasbourg in 1596. At the age of twenty, he travelled to Italy via Munich, where he is documented in 1598.
His stay in Venice is undocumented, but the influence on his style is clear. He probably worked as an assistant to Johann Rottenhammer, some of whose drawings he owned. Rottenhammer was a German who had been living in Italy for some years, and was the first German painter to specialize in cabinet paintings. Uffenbach had specialized in large altarpieces, and although Elsheimer's earliest small paintings on copper seem to date from before he arrived in Italy, Rottenhammer's influence is clear on his mature work.
He was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, the Roman painters' Guild, in 1606, giving them a self-portrait (his only portrait, and only painting on canvas) now in the Uffizi. In spite of his fame and talents, he appears to have both lived and died in difficult financial circumstances.
Adam Elsheimer's painting of Tobias and the Angel (1602–1603) (the "small" Tobias - now at Frankfurt) was especially well received because of its new conception of landscape.
Adam Elsheimer had a definite preference for choosing rare or original subjects, both for his mythological and religious paintings. Jupiter and Mercury in the house of Philemon and Baucis, is based on an episode in Ovid, and had never been painted before. The Mocking of Ceres, Apollo and Coronis, and Il Contento were equally new.
His perfectionism, and an apparent tendency to depression, resulted in a small total output, despite the small size of all his pictures. In all about forty paintings are now generally agreed to be by him. He made a few etchings, not very successfully. However, his work was highly regarded by other artists and a few important collectors for its quality. He had a clear and direct influence on other Northern artists who were in Rome such as Paul Bril, Jan Pynas, Leonaert Bramer and Pieter Lastman, later Rembrandt's master, who was probably in Rome by 1605.
Influences: Johann Rottenhammer, Philipp Uffenbach
Influenced: Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Paul Bril, Jacob Pynas