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Pieter Stevens
Birth Date: 
Death Date: 
A Flemish draftsman and painter who was appointed court painter to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612), Pieter Stevens is remembered today for the designs he provided to printmakers of the early 17th Century. He was probably born in Mechelen, a city in Flanders between Brussels and Antwerp, around 1567. His father, Pieter Stevens the Elder (ca. 1540-ca. 1566) was a painter. Presumably Stevens the Younger received his artistic training from his father and perhaps others in Antwerp, where he was registered as a free master in 1589. Drawings by Stevens from 1590 and 1591 depicting locations around Rome and Naples suggest that he visited Italy at that time, but these may be copies of works by other artists who did visit Italy. Other landscape drawings and paintings date from the early 1590s. Rudolf II was a major patron of the arts and his court employed numerous artists in Prague. Stevens was added to this number on April 15, 1594 when he was appointed court painter. Stevens was listed as an employee of the court in 1600 and was still in service in 1612, after Rudolf’s death. A specialist in landscapes, often devoid of figures, some of Stevens’s works depicted nighttime scenes. He created finished drawings, intended to be complete works of art rather than studies for paintings, which were collected by other noblemen in addition to the Emperor. His works include views of topographic scenes from several European cities. Prints after his designs were engraved by such artists as Hendrick Hondius (1573-1650), Jan Sadeler I (1550-1600) and Aegidius Sadeler II (ca. 1570-1629). Other designs were used for pietra dura tabletops. After Rudolf’s death, Stevens remained in Prague; a signed drawing indicats he was there in 1614. He was then employed by Prince Karl I of Liechtenstein (1569-1627), the Viceroy and Imperial Govenor of Bohemia, from 1620 until 1624. He is thought to have died in Prague, although the dated of his death has not been determined. His son Anton Stevens (1618-1672) and two grandsons also had careers as painters in Prague. (TNB 4/2013) Selected Bibliography: Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta. Drawings from the Holy Roman Empire, 1540-1680: A Selection from North American Collections. Exhibition catalog, pp. 160-163. Princeton: The Art Museum, Princeton University, 1982.