Gheeraerts, Marcus (1510?-1590?) (DNB00)

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GHEERAERTS, GEERAERTS, or GARRARD, MARCUS, the elder (1510?–1590?), painter and engraver, was son and pupil of Egbert Gheeraerts, a painter, who was admitted as master painter in the guild of St. Luke at Bruges in 1516. According to the chronology compiled by Delbecq from the lost manuscript of Lucas de Heere [q. v.], Gheeraerts was born at Bruges in 1510, though a later date, about 1530, seems more probable. In 1558 he was admitted to the freedom of the painters' guild, and was second ‘vinder’ to the guild. His biographers extol his excellence in drawing, painting (especially landscape), miniature-painting, engraving, architecture, designs for glass-painters, and tapestry, &c. In 1558 he prepared the designs for the tomb of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, copying the famous tomb of Mary of Burgundy in the church of Notre-Dame at Bruges, where both tombs now remain. In 1561 he was commissioned to complete the triptych of the ‘Passion’ left unfinished by Bernard van Orley at his death, which hangs still in the same church. In 1562 he engraved for the town the fine bird's-eye view of the town of Bruges, the original copper-plates of which are still preserved among the town archives at Bruges. In 1563 he painted a triptych of ‘The Descent from the Cross’ for the church of the Recollets at Bruges. Payments to Gheeraerts for his services occur in the town archives from 1557 to 1565. Gheeraerts was especially noted for his drawings of animals. In 1559 he drew a series of bears, which were afterwards etched and published by Marc de Bye. In 1566 he published at his own cost an edition of ‘Æsop's Fables,’ entitled ‘De warachtighe Fabulen der Dieren,’ with etchings by himself, poetry by Eduwaert de Dene, a dedication to Hubert Goltzius, and an introductory poem by Lucas de Heere. There are several editions of this work, and the plates were frequently copied. Gheeraerts's original drawings are in existence, and were sold in the Van der Helle sale at Paris in February 1868. He made designs for several other series of engravings representing animals, ornaments, allegory, mythology, &c., among which may be noted a remarkable series of initial letters with designs from the ‘Passion’ published by Joannes Sadeler.

Gheeraerts embraced the reformed religion, and, like many of his confederates, sought refuge in England at the outbreak of the Alvan persecution in 1568. He was probably accompanied by his son, Marcus Gheeraerts the younger [q. v.] On 9 Sept. 1571 he married at the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, London, a second wife, Susanna de Crets of Antwerp, no doubt a relative of the queen's sergeant-painter, John de Critz [q. v.] By her he had three children: Rachel, born 1573; Sara, born 1575; and Tobias, born 1576, all baptised at the Dutch Church. In 1577 he seems to have gone to Antwerp, as in 1577 he was admitted a member of the guild of St. Luke there. He was a member of the chamber of rhetoric called ‘The Violet,’ and remained in Antwerp till 1586. He is said to have died in 1590 in England, but this seems uncertain. He was certainly dead before 1604, when Carel van Mander published his ‘Lives of the Flemish Painters,’ as Van Mander complains of the want of courtesy of the son, Marcus Gheeraerts the younger, in declining to supply information concerning his father's end.

[Van Mander's Vie des Peintres, ed. Hymans; Michiel's Histoire de la Peinture Flamande; Moens's Registers of the Dutch Church, Austin Friars; Rathgeber's Annalen der Niederländischen Malerei; Baldinucci's Notizie dei Professori di disegno, ii. 604; Biographie Nationale de Belgique; Rombouts and Van Lerius's Liggeren der Antwerpsche Sint Lucasgilde; Nagler's Monogrammisten, iv. 1571; Guilmard's Les Maîtres Ornemanistes; Weale's Bruges et ses Environs; information from Mr. W. H. James Weale.]

L. C.