HEMESSEN, Catharina van
(b. 1528, Antwerpen, d. ca. 1587, Antwerpen)


Daughter of Jan Sanders van Hemessen. Both Vasari and Guicciardini mention her, along with the illuminators Levina Teerlinc, Susanna Horenbout and others, as a prominent Netherlandish woman painter. According to van Beverwyck, she studied painting under her father. She acknowledged filial respect by signing an aristocratic Portrait of a Man (National Gallery, London): Catharina filia Ioannes de Hemessen Pingebat 1552. The suggestion that Catharina painted background scenes for some of her father's pictures (Bergmans) is unacceptable on both stylistic and chronological grounds.

Her main patron was Queen Mary of Hungary. She married Christian de Morien in 1554 and thus her career ended. Most historians think this is true because there are no paintings by her after this date and because it was customary for a woman to give up painting after she was married. Queen Mary respected her talent so much that when she died in 1558, she left an endowment for the couple to live out their lives in comfort.