DELFF, Jacob Willemsz I
(b. ca. 1550, Gouda, d. 1601, Delft)


Jacob Willemsz Delff I was the leading portrait painter in Delft at the end of the 16th century. He was the founder of a well-known Dutch family of artists. He came from Gouda and probably studied with Anthonie Blocklandt in Delft, where the young artist was admitted to the Guild of St Luke in 1575 and acquired citizenship seven years later. He had three sons by his marriage to Maria Nagel, all of whom became artists: the still-life painter Cornelis, the portraitist Rochus, and the engraver Willem. He immortalised his entire family grouped around his easel. The son of Willem, Jacob Willemsz Delff II was also a painter.

Only a dozen of his paintings are known, all dating from the period 1580-93. All his works are portraits. In addition to single individuals, he painted group portraits, including one of the officers of a civic guard company, and a historicized portrait. There is not a single portrait that can be safely attributed to him from 1593 until his death in 1601.

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