Venius, Otho,

a Dutch painter of great eminence, was descended of a considerable family in Leyden, and born in 1556. He was carefully educated by his parents in the belles lettres, and at the same time learned to design of Isaac Nicolas. In his fifteenth year, when the civil wars obliged him to leave his country, he retired to Liege, finished his studies, and there gave the | first proofs of his talents. He was particularly known to cardinal Groosbeck, who gave him letters of recommendation when he went to Rome, where he was entertained by cardinal Maduccio. His genius was so active, that he at once applied himself to philosophy, poetry, mathematics, and painting, the latter under Frederico Zuchero. He acquired an excellence in all the parts of painting, especially in the knowledge of the chiar-oscuro, and he was the first who explained to the Flemish artists the principles of lights and shadows, which his disciple Rubens afterwards carried to so great a degree of perfection. He lived at Rome seven years, during which time he executed several fine pictures; and then, passing into Germany, was received into the emperor’s service. After this the duke of Bavaria and the elector of Cologn employed him: but all the advantages he got from the courts of foreign princes could not detain him there. He had a desire to return into the Low Countries, of which Alexander Farnese, prince of Parma, was then governor. He drew the prince’s picture in armour, which confirmed his reputation in the Netherlands. After the death of that prince, Venius returned to Antwerp, where he adorned the principal churches with his paintings. The archduke Albert, who succeeded the prince of Parma in the government of the Low Countries, sent for him to Brussels, and made him master of the mint, a place which took up much of his time; yet he found spare hours for the exercise of his profession. He drew the archduke and the infanta Isabella’s portraits at large, which were sent to James L of Great Britain: and, to shew his knowledge of polite learning, as well as of painting, he published several treatises, which he embellished with cuts of his own designing. Among these are, 1. “Horatii Emblemata,Antwerp, 1607, 4to, often reprinted, but this edition has the best plates. 2. “Amoris divini emblemata,Antwerp, 1615, 4to. 3. “Amorum emblemata,” ibid. 1608, 4to. 4. “Batavorum cum Romanis bellum, &c.” ibid. 1612, 4to, &c. Venius died at Brussels, 1634, in his seventy-eighth year. He had two brothers; Gilbert, who was an engraver; and Peter, a painter; but his greatest honour was his having Rubens for a pupil. 1


Argenviile, vol. III. Deschamps, vol. I. Pilkington. Bullart’s Academie des Sciences.