A leading portraitist in the early seventeenth-century Dutch Republic, Moreelse was highly sought after by noble families, including those in the court of Prince Maurice of Nassau (1567–1625). Moreelse was a prominent citizen of Utrecht, one of the few great Dutch painting centers outside the province of Holland. In 1611 Moreelse became president of the Guild of St. Luke in Utrecht, the city’s first independent association of painters and sculptors. He was influential in the establishment of the famous Utrecht university in 1634. Through his important role in the town-council Moreelse became acquainted with the leading Utrecht families, whose portraits he was commissioned to paint.
Moreelse started his career when Mannerist style in painting was rampant in the Netherlands. A product of the School of Utrecht, A Portrait of a Young Woman shows Moreelse’s initial immersion in the Mannerism of Joachim Anthonisz Wtewael (ca. 1566- 1638) and of Moreelse’s own teacher, Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt (Mierveld) of Delft (1567-1641). Although in this portrait Moreelse maintained some Mannerist approach, characterized by sharply defined contours, he focuses his attention on the figure itself and prefers plain background. The artist’s excellent technique reveals to perfection the luxury of lace and the wealth of jewelry.
Moreelse’s admiration of Rubens would lead him to imitate his style, and in the eighteenth century some of Moreelse’s works were repeatedly attributed to Rubens and sold under his name.
dresses; figures; portraits; women
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