He is first mentioned as a pupil of Peter Paul Rubens by the historian Jacob Campo Weyerman. Although the scientific relevance of his sources is questioned, it is still accepted that Schut was a pupil of Rubens. He is registered in 1618 as a member of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke.
From 13 January 1627 he collaborated with the painter Tyman Arentsz. Cracht on frescoes in the villa "Casino Pescatore" located in Frascati, owned by Giorgio Pescatori (aka Pieter de Vischere), a wealthy Italian banker and patron of Flemish descent. This commission was instrumental in launching his career in Italy. During these years Schut also painted small works with allegorical and mythological themes. In 1627-28 he was in Florence, where he is known to have designed tapestries for the Arazzeria Medicea, the most important tapestry factory in Italy founded in 1546 in Florence by the Medici grand duke Cosimo I.
He worked on the decorations for the Royal Entry of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand in 1635 in both Antwerp (where Rubens was the overall organizer) and Ghent and collaborated with Gaspard de Crayer, Nicolas Roose, Jan Stadius and Theodoor Rombouts.
His early work shows the influence of Abraham Janssens. During his Italian sojourn in Rome during 1624–27 and Florence in 1627–28 he adopted elements of the High Baroque style of Pietro da Cortona, Guercino and classical tendencies informed by Domenichino and Guido Reni. This style is characterized among other things by a strong sense of animation and pathos, in which light and color play an important role. Elements of late mannerism are also evident. Schuts’ style, which is characterized by strong foreshortening, sharp contrasts of light and extreme facial expressions has some affinity with the work of Federico Barocci, who played a major role in the evolution of baroque painting.
Aside from motifs and compositional arrangements, his work displays little stylistic resemblance to that of Rubens. Schuts’ skill in interpreting the themes of the Counter-Reformation led to many commissions for altarpieces in churches and monasteries in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Bruges and Cologne.
His compositions were engraved by artists like Hans Witdoeck, although he was an accomplished etcher himself.
- Biographical details at the The Netherlands Institute for Art History. (Dutch)
- Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder, Cornells Schut in Italy
- Hans Vlieghe. "Schut, Cornelis, I." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.
- Cornelis Schut in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Cornelis Schut in the Art Museum of Estonia
- Vlieghe, Hans (1998). Flemish Art and Architecture, 1585-1700. Pelican History of Art. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07038-1
- Hairs M.-L., Dans le sillage de Rubens: les peintres d'histoire anversois au XVIIe siècle, Bibliothèque de la Faculté de philosophie et lettres de l'Université de Liège. Publications exceptionnelles. 4, 1977
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