Jacques (aka Jacob) de Gheyn II (aka de Gheyn the Elder)
The second of three generations of Jacques de Gheyns, de Gheyn II is the most widely known of these three artists. He began his training with his father, the miniaturist, glass painter, and printmaker Jacques de Gheyn I, in Leiden. In 1585, de Gheyn II moved to Haarlem and began study with the engraver Hendrick Goltzius. In the 1590’s, de Gheyn II returned to Leiden and by 1600, had abandoned engraving for painting and etching. While living there, he came into the circle of humanist Hugo de Groot (also known as Grotius), and de Groot sometimes created the text for de Gheyn II’s engravings. Around 1605, the artist moved to The Hague, where he was a favorite of the Dutch nobility. He designed the first grottoes in the Netherlands for Prince Maurice of Orange, and later worked for his successor, Prince Frederick Henry.
Jacques de Gheyn II is credited with some of the earliest female nudes in Dutch art, some of the first “vanitas” paintings in Holland, and for his role in the transition of Dutch art from mannerism toward naturalism. Perhaps his most famous work is a collection of 117 engravings illustrating military training in “The Exercise of Armes,” a manual intended for the instruction of Dutch armies in their retaliation against Spanish rule.