Roelandt Savery was a Flemish painter, draftsman and printmaker. Like so many other artists, Savery's Anabaptist family fled north from the Spanish occupied Southern Netherlands when Roelant was about 4 years old and settled in Haarlem around 1585. He was taught painting by his older brother Jacob Savery (c.1565-1603) in Amsterdam.
After his schooling, Savery traveled to Prague around 1604, where he became court painter of the Emperors Rudolf II (1552-1612) and Mathias (1557-1619), who had made their court a center of mannerist art. Between 1606-1608 he traveled to Tyrol to study plants.
Before 1616 Savery moved back to Amsterdam, and in 1618 he settled in Utrecht, where he joined the artist's guild a year later. His nephew Hans would become his most important assistant.
In 1621 Savery bought a large house on the Boterstraat in Utrecht. The house had a large garden with flowers and plants, where a number of fellow painters were frequent visitors. Savery was friends with still life painters like Balthasar van der Ast and Ambrosius Bosschaert. In the 1620s he was one of the most successful painters in Utrecht, but later his life got troubled, perhaps because of alcoholism. Though he would have pupils until the late 1630s, amongst which Allaert van Everdingen and Roelant Roghman, he went bankrupt in 1638 and died half a year later. Savery never married.
While Savery's paintings recall Jan Brueghel the Elder's works, Savery's style is more archaic. He also incorporated the exotic animals that he studied closely in Rudolf II's menagerie. He must have even seen a now-extinct dodo bird, for it appears in one of his pictures.
His works played important roles in the development of several genres: floral still lifes, paintings of cows and other animals, cityscapes, and landscapes. His mountain scenes with precipitous rocks and waterfalls influenced Dutch landscape painters such as Allart van Everdingen, Herman Saftleven the Younger, and Jacob van Ruisdael.
Savery is represented in the following collections: Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna; The Louvre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; National Gallery, London, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Städel Museum, Frankfurt; The Royal Collection, London; Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford; Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Courtauld Institute of Art, London; Dordrechts Museum, Netherlands; Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts; Musée de Douai, France; Museum Bredius, Netherlands; Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels; Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri; The British Museum, London; Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, amongst others.