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Jacob Savery the Elder

Kortrijk circa 1565 – Amsterdam 1603

Jacob Savery was the Elder brother of Roelandt Savery, the landscape and animal painter to whom he most probably gave his early training. He may have been a pupil of Hans Bol or, at least, one of his followers. Religious persecutions led him to seek sanctuary in the Northern Netherlands where he emigrated with his family between 1580 and 1585 (there to meet his presumed former master again). He was registered as a member of the Haarlem Guild of Painters in 1587 and was granted rights of citizenship in Amsterdam in 1591, at the same time as Bol.

A miniature painter and draughtsman, he left a rather scarce painted production, generally dated 1590-1600. His Flemish kermises and landscapes, often anecdotal, indicate clearly a bruegelian tradition, although brighter colours and more variegated hues, larger brushstrokes in the treatment of figures distinguish him from both Bruegel's palette and stipple. These idiosyncratic features are found throughout his work, which thereby derives its extreme compositional rigour. It should furthermore be noted that his landscapes are not in the least akin to those of his brother Roelandt, although the latter had been his pupil. The strong personality of Jacob Savery, his singular blend of virtuosity and freedom of expression was about to gain him favour and recognition when, in the year 1603, the epidemic of pest which was rampant in these days, swept him away. In spite of his early death, he left the mark of an original talent on his time.