Mayken Verhulst

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Mayken Verhulst (1518–1599), also known as Marie Bessemers,[1] was a sixteenth-century miniature, tempera and watercolor painter, identified by Lodovico Guicciardini in 1567 as one of the four most important female artists in the Low Countries.


Mayken Verhulst was born in Mechelen in 1518. She was the second wife of the painter Pieter Coecke van Aelst, and the mother-in-law of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, and, according to Karel van Mander, the first teacher of her grandsons Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder. Her sister Lysbeth was married to the engraver and painter Hubert Goltzius, and her sister Barbara was married to the painter Jacob de Punder.


Following Pieter Coecke's death in 1550, she likely oversaw the publication of a large woodcut series Ces Moeurs et Fachons de Faire des Turcz (Manners and Customs of the Turks) (1553).[2] Verhulst died in Mechelen in 1599.

No works survive that can be securely attributed to Verhulst,[1] although she is frequently identified as the person behind several works assigned to the Master of the Brunswick Monogram.[3]

Verhulst might also have been the author of a painting in the Kunsthaus Zürich with a self-portrait with her husband (panel, 50.5 x 59 cm).[4]


Her house and former painter's workshop, 't Vliegend Peert [nl] is a historic monument in Mechelen. It is a museum named Het Zotte Kunstkabinet [nl].


  1. ^ a b Greer, p. 26.
  2. ^ Op de Beeck, passim; also see, "Woodcut". Archived 29 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Bergmans, passim. This is mentioned by most subsequent studies about Verhulst although always with conditions.
  4. ^ King, p. 394


  • Bergmans, Simone. "Le Problème de Jan van Hemessen, monogrammatiste de Brunswick," in Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, vol. 24, 1955, pp. 133–57.
  • Greer, Germaine. The Obstacle Race, p. 26.
  • King, Catherine. "Looking a Sight: Sixteenth-Century Portraits of Woman Artists," in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, vol. 58, 1995, pp. 381–406.
  • Op de Beeck, Jan. "Pieter Bruegel, Mayken Verhulst en Mechelen". In: De Zotte Schilders. (p. 17–29. Ed. Snoeck.2003. ISBN 90-5349-423-5.
  • Op de Beeck, Jan, Mayken Verhulst (1518–1599). The Turkish Manners of an Artistic Lady. Mechelen: Museum Het Zotte Kunstkabinet, 2005. ISBN 90-90-19982-9.
  • "Woodcut offers panoramic view of 16th-century Muslim life." Yale Bulletin & Calendar 18 January 2002. (accessed 21 May 2007)
  • Haar naam was Mayken (in Dutch)