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Summary Article: Elsheimer, Adam
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

German painter and etcher. He was active in Rome from 1600. His small paintings, nearly all on copper, depict landscapes darkened by storm or night, with figures picked out by beams of light, as in The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1609) (Alte Pinakothek, Munich).

Elsheimer studied at Frankfurt under a minor landscape artist, Philip Uffenbach, leaving the city about 1598 to work at Munich and in Venice with Johann Rottenhammer. He settled in 1600 in Rome, where he was known as ‘Adamo Tedesco’, and began to produce small pictures, painted, like Rottenhammer's, on copper, which had a great influence on the development of 17th-century landscape. Landscape played a principal part in these works, ostensibly biblical or mythological in subject, and in its treatment Elsheimer seems to have drawn suggestions from a variety of sources, such as Tintoretto, the Carracci, Caravaggio, and the Flemish painter Paul Bril. He is noted for the effective contrast between different sources of light in the same picture, for example the firelight, torchlight, and moonlight in his Rest on the Flight into Egypt, which may well have inspired Rembrandt's Flight into Egypt (Dublin). Effects of this kind delighted and influenced Rubens, who bought works by him. He also made a study of the country round Rome, and his sketches in the Campagna foreshadow the ‘classical’ landscape with ruins that Claude was to perfect.

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