AACHEN, Hans von
(b. 1552, Köln, d. 1615, Praha)

David and Bathsheba

Oil on canvas, 128 x 105 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Hans von Aachen's allegorical paintings, with their often complicated encoding, carried an intellectual stamp, powerfully influenced by the personality of the Emperor and by his high level of culture. After Rudolf II's death, von Aachen continued to paint in a similar fashion, though the colouring became darker in his late works, as if he were trying to convey the slow decline of Rudolfine art. During the reign of Emperor Matthias he painted David and Bathsheba, a tribute to the ideal of female beauty of Prague Mannerism; here again the naked female body is at the centre of the narrative. The boundary between mythological and religious painting is blurred in favour of extremely sensual eroticism. The objects surrounding Bathsheba, arranged in a still-life manner, are reminiscent of Netherlandish models, to which Hans von Aachen was also indebted in his few genre paintings.