Pieter II Stevens

A forest landscape with the Flight into Egypt

Pieter II Stevens was born in Mechelen ca. 1567. Little is known of his training; in 1589 he came to Antwerp, where he became a member of the guild of St Luke. On the basis of a series of drawings, now attributed to Stevens, of monuments around Rome and Naples, it is believed he went to Italy shortly afterwards, although this has not yet been conclusively proven.

What is certain is that in 1594 Stevens was appointed painter to the court of the art-loving Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. He was not the only Fleming there, nor was he the only immigrant from the town of Mechelen: he was preceded by Philippus de Monte, a master on the madrigal and composer of countless masses. He specialized in mountain landscapes and is known to have painted a lot of furniture decorations. His son, Anton Stevens, who he trained, also worked for the court. From 1620 until his death Stevens worked for the Prince of Liechtenstein.

In the present painting, a mannerist forest landscape to the right stretches into the background, while to the left, a mountainous river landscape is revealed. A couple of hunters is conversing leisurely in the foreground, their dogs playfully cavorting next to them. Several small animals and birds can be made out in the foliage, while a third hunter takes off into the forest. Only in the background the actual subject of the painting can be made out: there, the Holy Family is seen crossing a small bridge, on their way to Egypt.

Artist: Pieter II Stevens (Mechelen ca. 1567 - 1624 Prague)
Medium: oil on copper
Dimensions: 26,5 x 35 cm