Cornelisz, Lucas (DNB00)

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CORNELISZ, LUCAS (1495–1552?), historical and portrait painter, was the third son of Cornelis Engelbrechtsen, one of the earliest Dutch painters, who was the master of Lucas van Leyden. He was born at Leyden in 1495, and became a pupil of his father, but finding the pursuit of art in his native city a precarious means of existence, he combined with it the business of a cook, and so obtained the cognomen of ‘de Kok.’ He painted well in oil and in distemper, and his designs are described by Van Mander as having been executed with care and much expression. But the struggle to maintain his wife and family by the practice of his art in Leyden was so severe that he resolved to come to England, where the fine arts had received much encouragement since the accession of Henry VIII. He is said by Sandrart to have arrived here soon after 1509, but the fact of his having brought with him a wife and seven or eight children renders it improbable that his arrival here took place earlier than about 1527. The return of Holbein to England in 1532 would materially affect the position of other artists, and it is probable that after a sojourn of five years Lucas departed, and then went to Italy, as conjectured by M. Eugène Müntz, who has proved that a certain Luca Cornelio, or Luca d'Olanda, was in the service of the court of Ferrara, and assisted in the manufactory of tapestry under Hercules II, between 1535 and 1547, for which he designed cartoons of the cities of the house of Este, of grotesques, and of the favourite horses of the duke. Nothing further is known of Lucas Cornelisz, but he is said to have died in 1552.

Van Mander mentions pictures by him, especially ‘The Adulteress before Christ,’ which existed at Leyden in his time; but many of his works are said to have been brought to England by persons who accompanied the Earl of Leicester when he went as governor to the Low Countries. The most important works of Lucas Cornelisz which remain in this country are the sixteen small portraits of the constables of Queenborough Castle, now at Penshurst, although almost all of them must be copies of earlier pictures, if not apocryphal. Five small heads of ladies—including those of Margaret, archduchess of Austria, and Elizabeth of Austria, queen of Denmark—in the collection at Hampton Court, and a portrait of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, in the possession of the Duke of Beaufort, are also attributed to him.

The two elder brothers of Lucas Cornelisz were likewise artists. The eldest, Pieter Cornelisz Kunst, was a painter upon glass; the second, Cornelis Cornelisz Kunst, a painter of scriptural subjects, was born at Leyden in 1493, and died in 1544.

[Van Mander's Livre des Peintres, ed. Hymans, 1884–5, i. 178; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England, ed. Wornum, 1849, i. 64; Müntz's Histoire générale de la Tapisserie, Ecole Italienne, 1878, p. 34; Müntz's Tapisserie [1882], p. 227; Law's Historical Catalogue of the Pictures at Hampton Court, 1881.]

R. E. G.