Michael Sweerts (1618-1664) and the Academic Tradition
Yeager-Crasselt, Lara Rebecca
Wheelock, Jr., Arthur K.
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ABSTRACT Title of Document: MICHAEL SWEERTS (1618-1664) AND THE ACADEMIC TRADITION Lara Rebecca Yeager-Crasselt, Doctor of Philosophy, 2013 Directed By: Professor Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Department of Art History and Archaeology This dissertation examines the career of Flemish artist Michael Sweerts (1618-1664) in Brussels and Rome, and his place in the development of an academic tradition in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Sweerts demonstrated a deep interest in artistic practice, theory and pedagogy over the course of his career, which found remarkable expression in a number of paintings that represent artists learning and practicing their profession. In studios and local neighborhoods, Sweerts depicts artists drawing or painting after antique sculpture and live models, reflecting the coalescence of Northern and Southern attitudes towards the education of artists and the function and meaning of the early modern academy. By shifting the emphasis on Sweerts away from the <italic>Bamboccianti</italic> <&mdash>-</&mdash> the contemporary group of Dutch and Flemish genre painters who depicted Rome's everyday subject matter <&mdash>-</&mdash> to a different set of artistic traditions, this dissertation is able to approach the artist from new contextual and theoretical perspectives. It firmly situates Sweerts within the artistic and intellectual contexts of his native Brussels, examining the classicistic traditions and tapestry industry that he encountered as a young, aspiring artist. It positions him and his work in relation to the Italian academic culture he experienced in Rome, as well as investigating his engagement with the work of the Flemish sculptor Fran<ç>ç</ç>ois Duquesnoy (1597-1643) and the French painter Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665). The breadth of Sweerts' artistic and academic pursuits ultimately provide significant insight into the ways in which the Netherlandish artistic traditions of naturalism and working from life coalesced with the theoretical and practical aims of the academy. This dissertation thus seeks to broaden our understanding of the artistic exchanges between the North and South, and the evolving role of the artist and the academy in the changing artistic landscape of the Netherlands in the mid-seventeenth century.