Karel van Mander (1548-1606) was born in Meulebeke, in Flanders. After finishing Latin school he became an apprentice artist. Van Mander spent much of the subsequent period in Rome and later worked at the imperial court in Prague. In 1583, he moved back to Haarlem. There he turned his studio into an academy where, as was common at Italian studios, pupils learned to draw from life. Models had never been used in the Netherlands before. Van Mander had many pupils, including his son, Karel van Mander II and Frans Hals. About thirty paintings known to be by Van Mander have survived, yet his main impact was as a theoretician. His 'Schilderboeck' (Book of Painters) appeared in 1604, outlining the rules of art. The book also contained biographies of Dutch and German artists. Van Mander’s publications on art and artists were well known in his time and today they represent a major art-historical source.

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