Dutch Mannerist Writer and Painter, 1548-1606
was a Flemish-born Dutch painter and poet, who is mainly remembered as a biographer of Netherlandish artists. As an artist he played an important role in Northern Mannerism in the Netherlands. He was born of a noble family at Meulebeke in modern West Flanders. He studied under Lucas de Heere at Ghent, and in 1568-1569 under Pieter Vlerick at Kortrijk. The next five years he devoted to the writing of religious plays for which he also painted the scenery. Then followed three years in Rome (1574-1577), where he is said to have been the first to discover the catacombs. On his return journey he passed through Vienna, where, together with the sculptor Hans Mont, he made the triumphal arch for the royal entry of the emperor Rudolph. In 1583 he settled in Haarlem where he lived and worked for 20 years on a commission by the city fathers to inventory "their" art collection; work that he later published in his "Schilder-boeck" (see below). While in Haarlem he continued to paint, concentrating his energy on his favorite genre: historical allegories. In 1603 he retired to the castle of Sevenbergen in Heemskerk to proofread his book that was published in 1604.