Hans Vredeman de Vries (detail)
Etching, 19.7 x 12.5 cm
| A Universal Artist
He came from Friesland, spent his life in a restless journey throughout Europe, and was one of the first to bring the artistic visual vocabulary of the Italian Renaissance to the North. Hans Vredeman de Vries (1526-1609) was a venturesome and innovative painter, architect and designer of gardens, interiors and furniture. He was also the author of two important studies on the art of building and central perspective. The influence of his work, especially of his prints, with their ornaments and imaginary architecture, could still be felt well into the nineteenth century.
Hans Vredeman de Vries is not only seen as one of the great innovators of sixteenth-century art in the Netherlands, he is also regarded as one of the founders of the art of architectural painting. In particular his interiors and ideal urban landscapes are suffused with a singular grandeur and depth. These imaginary spaces are, as it were, 'stylistic exercises' in both painting and building. His etchings and engravings, too - which include images of gardens and applied arts - offer an inventory of motifs and elements borrowed from classical antiquity. Hans Vredeman de Vries studied the architectural treatises of Vitruvius and Serlio, produced many publications himself, and in his numerous designs on paper revealed himself to be a consummate and ingenious master builder. In short, Johan Frisio - as he was also known - was an 'uomo universale'.