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Adam Elsheimer - German Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Adam Elsheimer (1578 - 1610)

Adam Elsheimer was born in Germany and grew up with the influence of the local painter, Gillis van Coninxloo. He moved to Rome in 1600 where he abandoned his early Mannerist tendencies for a more simplistic approach. He also admired the light and shadow technique of creating mood that was popularized by Caravaggio. Elsheimer painted on a small-scale, mostly on copper. He also invented a distinct variety of landscape that served as part of the composition, not just background. After making bad business decisions and partnering with a rich Dutch etcher, Elsheimer became overwhelmed with his misfortune and landed in debtor’s prison where he died in 1610. His relatively few paintings were small scale, nearly all painted on copper plates, of the type often known as cabinet paintings. They include a variety of light effects, and an innovative treatment of landscape. He was an influence on many other artists, including Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens. His perfectionism, and an apparent tendency to depression, resulted in a small total output, despite the small size of all his pictures.

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