Hendrick de Keyser

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Engraving of Hendrick de Keyser from Het Gulden Cabinet

Hendrick de Keyser (15 May 1565 – 15 May 1621) was a Dutch sculptor and architect born in Utrecht, Netherlands, who was instrumental in establishing a late Renaissance form of Mannerism in Amsterdam. He was the father of Thomas de Keyser who was an architect and portrait painter.

Biography and works[edit]

As a young man the Utrecht-born artist Hendrick de Keyser was apprenticed to master Cornelis Bloemaert the elder. At the age of 26 he followed Bloemaert to Amsterdam. Soon he set to work as an independent artist. When his talent became generally appreciated he was appointed city stonemason and sculptor. In fact his duties included all of the tasks now associated with the job of city architect. De Keyser is famous for a number of important buildings which belong to the core of Dutch historic sites. Today the Zuiderkerk (1603-1611) and accompanying tower (1614), the Delft Town Hall (1618-1620), the Westerkerk (1620-1631) and Westertoren (built in 1638 but in a modified version) are among the historic buildings which provide important insights into De Keyser’s work. His Commodity Exchange of 1608-1613 was pulled down in the 19th century.

Hendrick de Keyser's projects in Amsterdam during the early decades of the 17th century helped establish a late Mannerist style referred to as "Amsterdam Renaissance". The Amsterdam Renaissance style deviates in many respects from sixteenth-century Italian Renaissance architecture. Classical elements such as pilasters, cornices and frontons were used on a large scale, but mainly as decorative elements. De Keyser never slavishly followed the tenets of classical architecture as laid down in the Italian treatises. His version came to full bloom at the end of the second decade of the 17th century, and set the stage for the later Dutch classical phase of Jacob van Campen and Pieter Post. The East India House in Amsterdam was most likely also designed by him.

Apart from pursuing a career as an architect, De Keyser remained active as a sculptor. He designed the tomb of William the Silent for the Nieuwe Kerk at Delft (1614-1623). However, De Keyser did not live to see the finished product. He died in Amsterdam, and his son Pieter completed the project.

In 1631, ten years after De Keyser’s death, Cornelis Danckertsz included the architect’s most important sketches in his book ’Architectura Moderna’.

De Keyser's career was not limited to Amsterdam, and his international contacts helped him to keep in touch with the mainstream of European architecture. The Amsterdam city administrators sent him to England where he worked with Inigo Jones (1573-1652). Jones was the first English architect who went to Italy to learn all he could about classical architecture. He studied the famous treatises written by the Roman architect Vitruvius (circa 30 BC), and his intimate knowledge of the work of Palladio (1518-1580) gave him the nickname the English Palladio. The Banqueting House in London, designed for the Stuart monarchs, became the prototype of classical architecture in England. When De Keyser returned to Amsterdam one of Jones’ assistants, Nicholas Stone, joined him. Stone worked with De Keyser in Amsterdam from 1607 to 1613 and even became his son-in-law. De Keyser attention to England and English architecture reflect Amsterdam's position as a commercial centre in Europe.

List of works[edit]

  • ca. 1603: Rasphuispoortje, Heiligeweg, Amsterdam.
  • 1606: Oost-Indisch Huis, Amsterdam.
  • 1606: Montelbaanstoren, Amsterdam.
  • 1611: Beurs van Hendrick de Keyser, Rokin, Amsterdam (demolished in 1835).
  • 1603-1611: Zuiderkerk, Zuiderkerkhof, Amsterdam.
  • 1618: Haarlemmerpoort, Amsterdam.
  • 1622: Erasmus-statue, Rotterdam.
  • 1620-1623: Noorderkerk, Amsterdam.
  • 1614-1623: Praalgraf Willem van Oranje, Delft (completed by Pieter de Keyser).
  • 1620-1631: Westerkerk, Amsterdam, (completed by Pieter de Keyser).

Works attributed to Hendrick de Keyser:

  • Jan Roodenpoortstoren, Amsterdam. 1616.
  • Haringpakkerstoren, Singel, Amsterdam. 1607.
  • Huis met de Hoofden, Keizersgracht 123, Amsterdam. 1622.
  • Huis Bartolotti, Herengracht 170-172, Amsterdam. Ca. 1617.

External links[edit]