Dirck Dircksz (van) Santvoort was born into a family of painters and he most likely trained with his father Dirck Pietersz, alias Bontepaert, before working in the studio of either Nicolaes Eliaszoon Pickenoy or Cornelis van der Voort, both of whom were highly successful portrait painters. In the first half of the 1630s Santvoort worked as a freelance collaborator in the workshop of Hendrick Uylenburgh, a prominent art dealer with whom Rembrandt lived and worked. Although not registered as a pupil of Rembrandt, Santvoort is considered a member of Rembrandt’s school of painting; the history paintings that he produced in the 1630s show notable traces of Rembrandt’s style of the 1620s and 1630s. From 1635 Santvoort began a successful career as a portrait painter and produced a large number of portraits for commission until 1645. He is particularly known for his portraits of children. Unlike his history and genre scenes, Santvoort’s portraits are more conservative in style and demonstrate an adherence to the conventional Amsterdam portraiture format employed by van der Voort and Pickenoy. This suggests that his patrons were a less wealthy and more conservative group of burghers (middle class citizens in the Dutch Republic) than Rembrandt’s clients.
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