Hendrik Goltzius (1558 - January 1, 1617), Dutch printmaker, draftsman, and painter, was born at Millebrecht, in the duchy of Julich. He was the leading Dutch engraver of the early Baroque period, noted for his sophisticated technique.
After studying painting on glass for some years under his father, he was taught the use of the burin by Dirk Volkertszoon Coornhert, a Dutch engraver of mediocre attainment, whom he soon surpassed, but who retained his services for his own advantage. He was also employed by Philip Galle to engrave a set of prints of the history of Lucretia.
At the age of 21 he married a widow somewhat advanced in years, whose money enabled him to establish at Haarlem an independent business; but his unpleasant relations with her so affected his health that he found it advisable in 1590 to make a tour through Germany to Italy, where he acquired an intense admiration for the works of Michelangelo, which led him to emulate that master in the grotesqueness and extravagance of his designs. He returned to Haarlem considerably improved in health, and laboured there at his art till his death.
Goltzius' painting Lot and his daughters (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) shows Lot being seduced by his two daughters. Sodom and Gomorrah are shown burning in the background, with Lot's wife who had turned into a pillar of salt, in front.Goltzius ought not to be judged chiefly by the works he valued most, his eccentric imitations of Michelangelo. His portraits, though mostly miniatures, are masterpieces of their kind, both on account of their exquisite finish, and as fine studies of individual character. Of his larger heads, the life-size portrait of himself is probably the most striking example. His masterpieces, so called from their being attempts to imitate the style of the old masters, have perhaps been overpraised.
Goltzius brought to an unprecedented level the use of the "swelling line", where the burin is manipulated to make lines thicker or thinner to create a tonal effect from a distance. He also was a pioneer of "dot and lozenge" technique, where dots are placed in the middle of lozenge shaped spaces created by cross-hatching to further refine tonal shading.
A self portraitHollstein credits 388 prints to him, with a further 574 by other printmakers after his designs.
In his command of the burin Goltzius is said to rival that of Durer's; but his technical skill is not equally aided by higher artistic qualities. Even, however, his eccentricities and extravagances are greatly counterbalanced by the beauty and freedom of his execution. He made engravings of Bartholomeus Spranger's paintings, thus increasing the fame of the latter - and his own. Goltzius began painting at the age of forty-two; some of his paintings can be found in the imperial collection at Vienna. He also executed a few chiaroscuro woodcuts. He was the stepfather of engraver Jacob Matham.