Martin Ryckaert

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Martin Ryckaert by Anthony van Dyck

Martin Ryckaert, also Maerten or Marten Rijckaert (baptised 8 December 1587, Antwerp – 11 October 1631) was a Flemish painter who was known for his small, usually imaginary landscapes in an Italianate style.


Martin Ryckaert was a member of the Ryckaert (or Rijckaert) family of artists, Martin was the son of David Ryckaert I, the younger brother of David Ryckaert II, and the uncle of David Ryckaert III. As the result of a birth defect or because of an accident, he had only one arm.

A mountainous river landscape with the Prodigal Son

Martin probably first studied with his father and was later a pupil of Tobias Verhaecht (or Verhaeght).[1] Verhaecht was also Peter Paul Rubens’s teacher for a brief period. Martin became a member of the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1607.

It is believed he traveled to Italy between 1607 and 1610 although no documentary evidence of this trip has been found. It is believed that during his stay in Italy he practised plein air sketching.[2] Martin rejoined the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1611 and was registered as the "painter with one arm".[3] He spent the remainder of his professional career in his native city. He was active in the local Chamber of rhetoric De Violieren.[4] He never married and collected many paintings by his contemporaries in his house in the Meyerstraat in Antwerp.[5]

A rocky landscape with figures by an iron foundry

He was reportedly a close friend of Anthony van Dyck, who painted his portrait showing Ryckaert dressed up as a king around 1630. This portrait was in the possession of Martin Ryckaert when he died and is today in the Prado in Madrid.[6] The portrait was engraved by Jacob Neefs and then included in van Dyck's book project entitled "Iconography" which contained portraits of famous people of that time.[7]

Ryckaert fell ill in early 1631 and died in Antwerp on 28 October. He left his entire fortune to his sister Maria and his brother Pauwel (or Pauwels).[6]


His work mainly depicts imaginary landscapes with forests, often with waterfalls, rocks, ruins, architecture and small human figures. Martin Ryckaert’s work shows similarities with that of the Antwerp painter Joos de Momper.[8]

Landscape with a farmer plowing and the fall of Icarus

It is difficult to assess the stylistic development of his work. The landscapes are in an Italianate style and thus resemble those of the Rome-based Flemish landscape painter Paul Bril.[6] This is particularly true for works from the period following his return from his presumed trip to Italy as Paul Bril's prints of Roman-style landscapes were widely disseminated in Antwerp at this time. The placement, style and grouping of the figures in the landscapes are indebted to Jan Brueghel the Elder.[2] This is most obvious in works such as the Landscape with the Flight into Egypt (in a private collection) that is based on a lost original by Brueghel, although Ryckaert did not slavishly copy Brueghel's invention. The colour treatment resembles that of Joos de Momper.[6]

His style of painting became gradually obsolete during his own lifetime and was replaced by the Baroque style, which was characterized by a greater realism, greater scale, warmer colours and transparent light.[4]

His composition A rocky landscape with figures by an iron foundry has long been regarded as one of the oldest paintings of a blast furnace and finery in Europe.[9]


Landscape in the Rhine valley
  1. ^ The Collector's Cabinet: Flemish Paintings from New England Private Collections, University of Massachusetts Press, 1983
  2. ^ a b Martin Ryckaert (Antwerp 1587-1631), An extensive mountainous landscape with figures on horseback and others resting in the foreground, a winding river and a town beyond at Christie's
  3. ^ Biographical details at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  4. ^ a b Biographical details at the Nouvelle Biographie Nationale (French)
  5. ^ Martin Ryckaert in Wurzbach, Alfred von [Bearb.], Niederländisches Künstlerlexikon: mit mehr als 3000 Monogrammen (Band 2): L - Z, Amsterdam, 1910 (German)
  6. ^ a b c d Sotheby's Important Old Master Paintings, Including European Works of Art, New York | 29 janv. 2009
  7. ^ Moir, Alfred, Anthony van Dyck, Thames and Hudson, London, 1994, p. 98
  8. ^ Landschap, Marten Rijckaert at Het Gulden Cabinet (Dutch)
  9. ^ Marten Ryckaert , A rocky landscape with figures by an iron foundry, a river and houses on the bank beyond at Christie's

External links[edit]

Media related to Marten Rijckaert at Wikimedia Commons