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Cornelis Mahu

Circa 1613 - Antwerp - 1689

There are no known documents recording the apprenticeship and training of this painter of still lives and landscapes. However, his presence is noted in the Antwerp guild in 1638 when he was received as a master. It is also here that he had as students L.F. Verbruggen, Caspar-Pieter Verbruggen the Elder in 1644-45 and D. de Brouwer in 1671.

Although the circumstances of his life and his œuvre remain little-known, Cornelis Mahu is nevertheless one of the rare Flemish still life artists whose compositions strongly resemble those of the Dutch painters. The majority of his paintings reflect the work of the Haarlem school and particularly of Willem Claesz Heda (1594-1680), the chief representative of the monochromatic “banketje” paintings, which he had the opportunity to be inspired by during the latter’s stay in Antwerp as well as by the many examples of his virtuosity distributed throughout Antwerp collections. The production of Cornelis Mahu is however dominated by depictions of interior scenes and Flemish landscapes. He adopts numerous subjects and themes - peasant interiors, guardrooms, tavern interiors - favoured by David Teniers and Adriaen van Ostade. His highly animated paintings teem with figures who often have exaggerated and rough features. Cornelis Mahu also painted several marine scenes showing heavy clouds and raging seas similar to those of Bonaventure Peeters, the most representative master of what is known as the “monochrome” movement.