SEGHERS, Hercules
(b. ca. 1590, Haarlem, d. ca. 1638, The Hague)


Dutch painter and etcher of stark, fantastic landscapes.

Seghers studied with Gillis van Coninxloo in Amsterdam and was influenced by the work of Adam Elsheimer. Seghers' style contrasts strongly with the main aspects of the Dutch output of that period; most of his works would have been difficult to understand prior to their rediscovery in the 20th century. Early reports indicate that he was lonely and poor, though several contemporary artists, including Rembrandt, expressed admiration for his work. The majority of Seghers' works represent forbidding mountain scenes with jagged cliffs, desolate valleys, broken tree trunks, and scant traces of human habitation.

His etchings belong to the most original and impressive experiments in the history of printmaking. He used different-coloured inks and often printed on coloured or dyed paper and even on canvas; the diversity of individual prints was increased by his adding accents by hand. Seghers' paintings are rare; few are documented, and many forgeries exist. Rembrandt owned several of his paintings and was obviously influenced by his landscapes.