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Gillis Neyts
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Best known for his landscape drawings, Flemish painter, draftsman and etcher Gillis Neyts worked in Antwerp and other parts of the Southern Netherlands during the 17th century. Born in Ghent in 1623 and probably baptized there on May 4, very little is known about his early life. Some scholars think he was the pupil of Lucas van Uden (1595-1672), an Antwerp painter, draftsman and printmaker, and some of Neyts’s landscape paintings reflect van Uden’s style. The next record of Neyts is his marriage in 1643 in Antwerp’s St. Jacobs Church to Clara de la Porte. Baptisms of three of their children were recorded in Antwerp in 1644, 1649 and 1653. The records of the artists’ Guild of St Luke for 1674-1648 show his admission to the Guild as a master, listing him as a painter and etcher. He apparently traveled around what is now Belgium and northern France making drawings, producing imagined landscapes and accurate views of cities and towns. He also created marine scenes, portraits and figure studies. Many of his drawings are in brown or black ink; others include watercolor or wash. He may have been in Dordrecht around 1650 and probably worked in the Meuse Valley and around Namur in the 1660s. He is listed in a document as being in Namur on June 10, 1665, and may have worked for monastic orders there. The drawing by him in the Museums’ collection, View of a City with Ruined Arch, dates from the 1660s. Neyts probably worked in Lille in the late 1670s and was probably back in Antwerp by 1680. A large number of his drawings are now in museum collections, including the British Museum, the Frits Lugt Collection in Paris, and the collection of Queen Elizabeth II. Neyts created several etchings, sometimes after his drawings, and engravings were made after his designs by other artists. Even his works on religious themes were landscapes with small devotional figures included. After returning to Antwerp, he probably stayed there until his death in 1687, when he was buried in the Antwerp Cathedral. (TNB 2/2013). Selected bibliography: Bernt, Walter. Die Niederländische Zeichner des 17. Jahrhunderts. 2 vols. Vol. 2, pp. 437-442. Munich: Verlag Bruckmann, 1958. Goldyne, Joseph R. “Gillis Neyts,” in Master Drawings from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. Pp. 60-61. San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francsco, 1985.