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Leonaert Bramer, De kindermoord
Leonaert Bramer, also Leendert or Leonard (24 December 1596 – 10 February 1674 (buried)), was a Dutch painter known primarily for genre, religious, and history paintings. Very prolific as a painter and draftsman, he is noted especially for nocturnal scenes which show a penchant for exotic details of costume and setting. He also painted frescos—a rarity north of the Alps—which have not survived, as well as murals on canvas, few of which are extant. Bramer is one of the most intriguing personalities in seventeenth-century Dutch art.
Bramer was born in Delft. In 1614, at the age of 18, he left on a long trip eventually reaching Rome in 1616, via Atrecht, Amiens, Paris, Aix (February 1616), Marseille, Genoa, and Livorno. In Rome he was one of the founders of the Bentvueghels group of Northern artists, and was nicknamed “Nestelghat” (Fidget). He lived with Wouter Crabeth and got into a fight with Claude Lorraine. He dedicated a poem to Wybrand de Geest. Bramer lived in Rome intermittently until October 1627, visiting Mantua and Venice, often for deliveries and to meet Domenico Fetti. In Italy Bramer acquired the sobriquet ‘Leonardo della Notte’ or ‘Leonardo delle Notti’ (‘Leonardo of the night’ or ‘nights’).
By 1628 he was back in Delft, where he joined the Guild of Saint Luke in 1629 and the schutterij. Among his many patrons were members of the House of Orange, but local burgomasters and schepen also bought his paintings in great numbers. He was a many sided artist, designing for tapestry firms in Delft, painting murals and ceilings, some of which are illusionistic in style. He painted real frescos in the Civic Guard house, the nearby stadholder’s palaces in Honselersdijk, Rijswijk, the Communal Land Housde and the Prinsenhof in Delft. Due to the Dutch climate they no longer survive. In 1648 Bramer traveled to Rome for a second time.
A lifelong bachelor, Bramer remained very productive until his death, which occurred in his home town of Delft in 1674.