Jacob de Backer

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Jacob de Backer, Memorial Triptych to Christopher Plantin, central panel of the Last Judgment, c. 1589. Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Jacob de Backer, also Jacques (c. 1555 – c. 1585), was a Flemish Mannerist painter and draughtsman active in Antwerp between about 1571 and 1585.


Paris Being Admitted to the Bedchamber of Helen

According to the RKD he was born in Antwerp in c.1540/45 and died there c.1591-1600.[1] De Backer was abandoned by his father as a young boy. Carel van Mander reports that the artist studied with Antonio van Palermo and Hendrik van Steenwijk I, but that Palermo worked him so hard that the young de Backer died in the arms of his master's daughter at the age of thirty.[2]

Although the artist painted in the high mannerist style of Giorgio Vasari, he never appeared to travel to Italy.[3] A series of the "Seven Deadly Sins", however, was bought in Antwerp by Alessandro Farnese's secretary Cosimo Masi in 1594 and taken to Italy[4] These paintings are now in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples. Other attributable works include a Last Judgment triptych by him or his studio for Christophe Plantin's tomb in the Antwerp Cathedral (c. 1589; illustrated right),[3] and an Allegory of the Three Ages of Man in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.[5]

He is not to be confused with the Dutch Golden Age painter Jacob Adriaensz Backer from Amsterdam.



  • Czobor, Agnes (1972). "The Five Senses' by the Antwerp Artist Jacob de Backer". Netherlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (23): 317–327. 
  • Leuschner, Eckhard (2001). "Defining de Backer: New Evidence on the Last Phase of Antwerp Mannerism before Rubens". Gazette des Beaux-Arts (137): 167–192. 
  • The State Hermitage Museum [accessed 16 May, 2007].
  • Carel van Mander, "Life of Jacob de Backer" in Het Schilder-boeck (older Dutch), [accessed 16 May, 2007].
  • Museo di Capodimonte, Superbia (Italian), [accessed 16 May, 2007].
  • Carl van de Velde: "Backer, Jacob de [Jacques]" Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, [accessed 16 May, 2007].

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