(b. 1562, Haarlem, d. 1638, Haarlem)

The Choice Between Young and Old

Oil on canvas, 73 x 89 cm
Private collection

In the 1580s, Cornelis van Haarlem was one of the principal exponents of the Mannerist style which enjoyed a brief but intense flowering in Haarlem. By the mid 1590s, however, when the present picture was painted, Cornelis's work was shifting towards a more temperate approach. The violent contortions and exaggeratedly muscular nudes which typified his earlier style, gave way in favour of more restful poses and figure types, more akin to classical ideals of proportion and harmony.