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Cornelis Pietersz Bega
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A distinguished painter and etcher who portrayed peasant life, Cornelis Pietersz. Bega lived and worked in 17th century Haarlem. One scholar writes he was born on January 22, 1632 in Haarlem; others say he was born in 1631 or 1632. His parents were well to do. His father, Pieter Jansz. Begijn (or Bega), was a gold- and silversmith; his mother Maria inherited a substantial estate from her father, Haarlem artist Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (1562-1638). Very little is known about Bega’s life. Writing in the early 18th century, Arnold Houbraken (1660-1719) recorded that Bega was the student of Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685), perhaps from 1650 until 1653, although no records of an apprenticeship have been found. Bega’s art certainly appears influenced by van Ostade and by that of Adriaen Brouwer (ca. 1605-1638) as well. His earliest dated drawing is from 1652. In 1653 Bega traveled in Germany and Switzerland with three other artists, Vincent Laurensz. van der Vinne (1628/29-1702), Theodor Helmbreker (1633-1696) and Willem de Bois (ca. 1610-1680). He returned to Haarlem by 1654, and joined the artists’ Guild of St. Luke on September 1, 1654. His genre scenes and single-figure works depicted domestic interiors and taverns, populated by a wide range of figures, including nursing mothers, smokers, drinkers, alchemists and prostitutes. About 160 paintings, 35 etchings 80 drawings and six monotypes by Bega survive. He apparently shared models with other Haarlem artists such as Cornelis Visscher (1629-1658) and Gerrit Adriaensz. Berckheyde (1638-1698), and scholars have noted the difficulty in attributing drawings among these artists. Bega probably died during of the plague, during an epidemic of that disease, on August 27, 1664 and was buried in Haarlem’s St. Bavo Cathedral on August 30. (TNB 3/2013) Selected bibliography: Franits, Wayne. Dutch Seventeenth-Century Genre Painting, pp. 139-144. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004. Giltaij, Jeroen, et al. Senses and Sins: Dutch Painters of Daily Life in the Seventeenth Century. Exhibition catalog, pp 240-243. Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hantje Cantz Verlag, 2004. Sutton, Peter C. and Jane Iandola Watkins, et al. Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting. Exhibition catalog, pp. 132-136. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1984. [