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Dirck Volkertsz. Coornhert

1522 Amsterdam – 1590 Gouda

Dirck Volkertsz. Coornhert grew up as the son of a prosperous draper in comfortable circumstances in Amsterdam. After his marriage to a much older and penniless woman in 1539 his parents deprived him of any further financial support. Coornhert moved to Haarlem, where he subsequently established himself as a printmaker. In 1547 the artist went to work as an engraver for Maarten van Heemskerck and produced an extensive oeuvre of reproductive prints after the latter’s originals. Coornhert was an esteemed and respected figure, not only as an artist, poet and political writer in Haarlem. In 1560 he founded a publishing house and later became a notary public. In 1564 he was appointed town clerk. His courageous pleas for religious tolerance and his freethinking forced him into exile in 1568, first in Cleves on the lower Rhine, then in Xanten, where Hendrick Goltzius became his pupil round about 1574. Not until 1577 did the artist return to Haarlem.