SAVERY, Roelandt
(b. 1576, Courtrai, d. 1639, Utrecht)

Biography

Flemish painter and etcher of landscapes, animal subjects, and still-life, the best-known member of a family of artists. He was born in Courtrai, grew up in Amsterdam, and in 1619 settled in Utrecht, but he is best known for his association with Prague, where he worked for the emperor Rudolf II from 1603 to 1613. Rudolf's famous menagerie allowed him to study in detail the exotic animals that became the trademark of his work. He painted and drew creatures such as pelicans, ostriches, camels, and the now extinct dodo, and was one of the first artists in the Netherlands to do pictures of animals alone. His favourite subjects, however, were Orpheus and the Garden of Eden, which allowed him to include any number of colourful beasts.

Savery's bright and highly finished style is similar to that of Jan "Velvet" Bruegel, but is somewhat more archaic. His rare flower paintings are sometimes of outstanding quality, and with Bosschaert he was an influential Flemish exponent of this genre in Holland. Houbraken, the Dutch painter and author of a large biographical work, says that Savery died insane.