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Michiel van Musscher
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Known for genre scenes and portraits, Michiel van Musscher was a Dutch painter and printmaker during the latter part of the 17th century. He was born in Rotterdam in 1645. Our information about his artistic training comes from the early 18th-century book on Netherlandish artists by Arnold Houbraken (1660-1719), who wrote that van Musscher trained in Amsterdam for two months in 1660 with the history painter Martin Saagmolen (ca. 1620-1669), and then in 1661 with Abraham van den Tempel (1622/23-1672). His parents joined him in Amsterdam in 1662. Houbraken wrote that van Musscher had seven painting lessons in Amsterdam with Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667) in 1665 and worked for three months in 1667 in the studio of Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685) in Haarlem. His earliest dated painting to survive is from 1666. Two paintings from 1668 and 1669 show scenes set in Amsterdam. His early work shows the influence of his teachers, particularly Metsu and van Ostade, as well as the works of Frans van Mieris (1635-1681). He apparently lived in Amsterdam until he married Eva Visscher on July 30, 1678, after when he probably returned to Rotterdam. Van Musscher focused on portraits after the 1670s. He had learned printmaking by 1673, the date of a portrait etching of Johan Maurits (1604-1679), then Count (later Prince) of Nassau-Seigen (Holl. 2). Altogether he made eight prints, five of which are mezzotints and all of which are portraits or busts. One of his best prints is a self-portrait, showing him in an allegorical frame (Holl. 1). Many of his painted portraits of artists and wealthy burghers show them in their own homes, surrounded by objects of their daily lives. Van Musscher later moved to Amsterdam, and became a citizen of that city in 1688. In 1693 he married again, to Elsie Klanes, who died in 1699. Apparently he maintained a studio; his pupils included Ottomar Elliger the Younger (1666-1732) and Dirck van Valkenburg (1675-1721). Van Musscher died in Amsterdam on June 20, 1705. (TNB 3/2013) Selected Bibliography: Ackley, Clifford S. Printmaking in the Age of Rembrandt. Exhibition catalog, pp. 278-279. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1981. Grijzenhout, F. “Michiel van Musscher and Bartholomeus van der Helst: Theft of Honour or Creative Imitation?,” in: Aemulatio. Imitation, emulation and invention in Netherlandish art from 1500 to 1800. Essays in honor of Eric Jan Sluijter, p. 393-406. Zwolle 2011. Sutton, Peter C. and Jane Iandola Watkins, et al. Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting. Exhibition catalog, p 266. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1984.