Bol, Hans

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Hans Bol (Flemish, 1534 – 1593)
Born in 1534 in Mechelen, Hans Bol studied under his two uncles, who were also artists. At age fourteen he had already become an accomplished painter of Waterschilderen, large-scale works in watercolor or tempera on canvas, which served as fashionable wall decorations and were a more affordable option to tapestries. According to Karel Van Mander (Schilderboeck, 1604), Bol’s wall art creations were very popular and therefore widely copied, which made the artist eventually abandon this craft and specialize in miniatures instead. His finely executed miniature gouaches on parchment earned him an international reputation and good earnings. In 1560 Bol travelled to Heidelberg, Germany, where he worked for two years. He later moved to Antwerp and due to the war with Spain in his Flemish homeland, finally settled in Amsterdam.

Aside from his miniatures, Hans Bol is also known for larger scale landscape paintings, which usually are the settings for biblical, mythological or allegorical scenes, and an extensive oeuvre of prints and drawings. The art of his contemporary Pieter Brueghel the Elder was one of Hans Bol’s strongest influences. He died of the plague in Amsterdam in the year 1593.