Gerard van Honthorst
The son of a painter, Honthorst was born in Utrecht and trained in the workshop of Abraham Bloemaert. The year of his arrival in Rome is uncertain; the earliest document of his stay there is a drawing, dated 1616, after a painting by Caravaggio. Until his departure in 1620, he lived in the household of Benedetto and Vincenzo Giustiniani. In Rome, Honthorst received commissions from important patrons for altar and gallery paintings. Of these, his artificially lit night scenes in particular gained him notoriety, so much so that he was later nicknamed ‘Gherardo delle Notti’. Back in Utrecht, he ran a large workshop with numerous students, including Joachim von Sandrart. From April to December 1628, he worked at the English court of King Charles I and was granted English citizenship in November of the same year. In the following years, his international reputation grew in aristocratic circles. In 1640, he was elected president of the Utrecht painters’ guild. Honthorst died in Utrecht in 1656.