VOORT, Michiel van der, the Elder
(b. 1667, Antwerpen, d. 1737, Antwerpen)

Biography

Flemish sculptor. He was possibly an apprentice of Jan Cosyns but later moved to the studio of Pieter Scheemaekers the Elder and became a master in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1690. Between 1690 and 1693 he travelled in Italy, visiting Rome and Naples. In 1700 he married Elisabeth Verberckt (aunt of the sculptor Jacques Verberckt), and they had five children, one of whom, Michiel van der Voort the Younger (1704-after 1777), was also a sculptor and painter.

The majority of his commissions were for religious works, generally church furnishings in various materials. His memorial statues were classical and simple, and he drew on the knowledge he had acquired in Rome of Hellenistic statues. Other influences were Michelangelo and Rubens. The memorial to Humbert Guillielmus de Precipiano, Bishop of Mechelen (1709; Mechelen Cathedral) is traditional in design, but the marble figure of the Bishop is a penetrating portrait. The tomb of the Bishop's brother, General Prosper de Precipiano (marble, 1709), is in the same church, and its base is a vast stele combined with an allegorical figure and a portrait bust of de Precipiano. The use of the stele was subsequently adopted with enthusiasm by other Flemish sculptors.