Dutch Baroque Era Painter, 1608-1651
Backer was born in Harlingen, but his family moved soon (in 1611) to Amsterdam. Between 1627 and 1633 he and Govert Flinck were pupils of Lambert Jacobsz in Leeuwarden. In 1633 he returned to Amsterdam, where he remained until his death.
His extreme quickness in painting portraits has been particularly noticed, and it is said by his Amsterdam colleague Joachim von Sandrart that he completely finished, in one day, the half length portrait of a lady in full dress, even so early, that she was able to return the same day to Haarlem. Besides being an important portrait painter - some 70 portraits can be attributed to him with certainty, among them the 1642 Company of Cornelis de Graeff voor de Nieuwe Doelen in Amsterdam, on the same wall as Rembrandt's Night Watch - Backer was an excellent painter of religious and mythological paintings. He was especially interested in pastoral subjects, themes from contemporary history, like the huge Crowning of Mirtillo from 1641 in the Brukenthal collection in Sibiu (250 x 250 cm.). In fact, Backer was a leading artist in Amsterdam until his premature death in 1651.