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Bosschaerts - Persyn Genealogical research - Known painters

Bosschaerts - Persyn Genealogical research - Known painters

Biography of Thomas Willebrordus Bosschaert (1613-1654)

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Thomas Willebrordus Bosschaert is born in Bergen op Zoom in 1613, as the son of Thomas (agent and receiver of Bergen op Zoom) and Cornelia THOMASSEN and died in Antwerp on 23 January 1654 and was buried in the monastery of the O.L. Vrouwebroeders. His sister Maria was buried in the same tomb.

Thomas grew up in welfare: his parents were notable people in Bergen op Zoom, who belonged to the most prominent members of the Catholic community. The city was reigned by the protestants, but the amount of Catholic people was much larger than the calvinist population. His widely subdivided family possessed several land estates in and around the ‘Markiezaat’ of Bergen op Zoom, and also in the Barony of Breda.

Bergen op Zoom was part of the quarter of Antwerp and there were narrow ties between both cities on administrative, political, economic and religious territory. In 1628 Willeboirts arrived in Antwerp, and started his career as painter. In 1608 the overwhelming person of Rubens was established in Antwerp, and had started the renewal of the Flemish painting. Many artist, also from abroad, were attracted. New monasteries and churches were established by the Contra reformation. Many church altars were damaged or destroyed during the Iconoclasm in the years 1560, and needed to be replaced or restorated. There was plenty of work for painters or sculptors.

Willebrord belonged to a later generation than Rubens, and had another style. He was most attracted with the elegant figurative language as it can be found on the paintings of Antoon Van Dyck. But Thomas became an independent creative painter, and he was able to develop the base of Van Dijck in other ways. Thomas Willebrordus was a famous painter. In 1629, he was the apprentice of the Antwerp painter Gerard Segers (1591-1651), and he specialized himself on large pictures and portraits. After his studies in Italy, England and Germany, he returned to Bergen op Zoom. He painted with great skill many altar pieces and portraits of sovereigns and considerable persons, and these works are very simular to the masterpieces of Anthoon Van Dijck.
In 1636-37 Willeboirts was registered as an independent master by the Guild of St.-Luke in Antwerp, and on 7 August 1637 he obtained the civil rights of the city. In 1649 he was appointed as Director of the Academy in Antwerp. In the years 1650 Thomas Willeboirts reached his artistic peak years. He had a large amount of commisions and this period was his mostly productive. On 18 September 1650 he was chosen as Dean of the Guild of St.-Luke in Antwerp. He could live prosperous and was able to pay the high rent price of 625 guilders a year for the beautiful house ‘Den Bock' in the Florisstreet.

1650 - Two girls as H. Agnes and H. Dorothea - 89x121cm  

Vision of H. Franciscus of Assisi
oil paint-cloth - 223x148cm
Portrait of Nicolaus ROCKOX

The church of Saint Willebrordus, outside Antwerp, possesses one of his paintings, that was regarded a long time as a painting of Rubens. Also in the O.L.V. church of Antwerp, at the altar of the brotherhood of St. Barbara, hangs an altar piece, as a copy of Van Dyck. It depict a Christ crossing, surrounded with the H. Virgin, the H. Franciscus and Magdalena.
His grave in the monastery of the O.L. Vrouwebroeders is a white marble monument decorated with the torso of Thomas Willebrord by Artus Quellyn, the Old. On this grave is chiseled a Latin text: Translated it sounds like:

‘D.O.M. Here rests Thomas Willebrordus Bosschaert, painter, of his art the ornament and the Dean, born in Bergen, raised in Antwerp, both regret, He died on 22 January 1654 in Antwerp at the age of 40 years old.’

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© Rudi Bosschaerts, 2003
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