eeffs The Elder Pieter
(Antwerp 1578 - Antwerp 1661)
Pieter Neeffs was a painter and draughtsman and one of a Flemish family of artists. The family specialized in paintings of architectural interiors. Their most frequent subject was the interior of Antwerp Cathedral; the details of sculpture, altars and paintings vary in accuracy, and sometimes the subject seems to be very freely interpreted. The Neefs also liked to depict the effects of artificial illumination in crypt-like spaces (in the manner of Hendrick van Steenwijck the younger).
It has been suggested that Pieter was born just after his elder brothers, who were born in 1576 and 1577 in Antwerp, where the family lived. Pieter was probably taught by Hendrick van Steenwijk the elder or younger; the latter’s influence is evident in his work. The earliest record of Pieter Neefs is a signed and dated painting of the Interior of a Gothic Church (1605; Dresden, Gemäldegallerie, Alte Meister). In 1609–10 Pieter was enrolled as a master in the Guild of St Luke in Antwerp, and on 30 April 1612 he married Maria Lauterbeens (d 1655–6), with whom he had five children. In 1636 he painted an Interior of St Paul’s, Antwerp (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum). His paintings have a delicate tonality with a softness in the transitions between light and shade.
Neeffs is represented in the following collections: The Hermitage, St. Petersburg; National Gallery, London; Wallace Collection, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon; Kunsthistorisches Museum; Vienna; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford; Bowes Museum, County Durham; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, amongst others.