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Hans von Aachen (1552 – 4 March 1615), was a German mannerist painter.
He was born in Cologne, but his name is derived from the birthplace of his father, Aachen in Germany. Other variations of the name include Johann von - and - von Achen and various concisions like Janachen, Fanachen, Abak, Jean Dac, Aquano, van Aken etc.
Allegory or The Triumph of Justice (1598), Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Hans von Aachen began painting in Germany as a pupil of the Flemish master E. Jerrigh. He then, like many northern artists of his time, such as Bartholomeus Spranger spent a long period in Italy. He lived in Venice from 1574 to 1588 and toured Florence and Rome during that period. He initially became a pupil of Kaspar Rems, but soon decided to develop his own mannerist technique, by studying Tintoretto and Michelangelo's followers. However, during all of his life he was influenced by the style of Bartholomeus Spranger and Hendrick Goltzius who dominated the art scene in Germany at the time.
He returned to Germany in 1588 where he became well known as a painter of portraits for noble houses. He also produced historical and religious scenes and earned a wide reputation. Among his patrons were the Fugger family. He painted several works for Duke William V of Bavaria. He married Regina, the daughter of the composer Orlando di Lasso in Munich. In Munich he came into contact with the Imperial Court in Prague. In 1592 he was appointed official painter of Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor. However, Von Aachen only moved to Prague years later (there is contention as to the date - 1601 or 1597), where he stayed and was commissioned to paint mythological and allegorical subjects such as his Liberation of Hungary (1598, Budapest). Emperor Rudolph II conferred knighthood on him in 1605. Von Aachen continued working on commissions under the newly appointed ruler, Matthias I. He died in Prague.
Amongst van Aachen's pupils were Peter Isaak and Joseph Heinz. His works have been copied by Wolfgang Kilian, Dominicus Custos and Jan Sadeler.
Bergin, Thomas (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Renaissance (Oxford and New York: Market House Books, 1987).
Belkin, Kristin. "Aachen, Hans von." The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 9 Feb. 2009
Julius Meyer (1875), "Achen, Johann von", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German) 1, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, p. 29
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