NEEFFS, Pieter the Elder
(c. 1578-c. 1656)
Flemish painter, part of a family of painters active in Antwerp. All three members of the family, Peeter Neefs the Elder and his sons Ludovicus Neeffs and Peeter Neeffs the Younger, specialized in paintings of architectural interiors. Their most frequent subject was the interior of Antwerp Cathedral; the details of sculpture, altars and paintings vary in accuracy, and sometimes the subject seems to be very freely interpreted. The Neefs also liked to depict the effects of artificial illumination in crypt-like spaces (in the manner of Hendrick van Steenwijck the Younger). Iconographic and stylistic similarities make the works of Peeter the Elder and Peeter the Younger often difficult to distinguish. Their paintings are generally small, painted on copper, and executed in a precise, neat way.
On a few occasions the father signed his works DEN AUDEN NEEFS. Generally speaking, those works dated before c. 1640 (when Peeter the Younger would have become involved in the workshop) are superior in quality. It is also possible that works attributed to either Peeter the Elder or Peeter the Younger are, in fact, by Ludovicus, the least-known member of the family. The figures in the architectural views by the various Neeffs were painted by such artists as Frans Francken II and Frans Francken III, Jan Brueghel I, Sebastiaen Vrancx, Adriaen van Stalbemt, David Teniers the Younger, Gonzales Coques and Bonaventura Peeters.