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De Heere, Lucas (DNB00)

DE HEERE or D'HEERE, LUCAS (1534–1584), painter and poet, born at Ghent in 1534, was the son of Jan D'Heere, the leading statuary in Ghent, and Anna de Smytere, a famous illuminator. De Heere was placed at an early age in the studio of his father's friend, Frans Floris. His friend, Marcus van Vaernewyck, the historian, remarks on his precocious skill. De Heere afterwards travelled in France and England. In 1559 he and his father were employed in making decorations for the cathedral at Ghent, on the occasion of the chapter of the Golden Fleece held there by Philip II in July 1559. The picture of ‘The Queen of Sheba before Solomon,’ now in the chapel of St. Ivo in the cathedral at Ghent, probably formed part of these decorations. De Heere certainly enjoyed the patronage of Philip II, but subsequently he adopted the reformed religion, and became a devoted follower of the Prince of Orange. His chief patron was Adolph of Burgundy, seigneur of Waeken. De Heere seems to have lived in his patron's house, and painted portraits of him, his wife, and their fool. It was perhaps while engaged on these portraits that he met at Middelburg Eleonora, daughter of Pieter Carboniers, burgomaster of Vere, herself a person of literary talent, whose portrait he painted, and whom he eventually married. In Ghent he set up a school of painting, which promised to carry on the italianised traditions of Frans Floris and his pupils. Poetry was as much studied as painting, and De Heere's poems were much esteemed by his fellow-townsmen. He was one of the members of the famous Chamber of Rhetoric, called ‘Jesus with the Balsam Flower,’ and in 1565 he published a collection of his poems, entitled ‘De Hof en Boomgaerd der Poesien.’ In that year he also published a translation of the Psalms of David after Clement Marot, and in 1566 wrote an introductory poem to the Psalms, published by the famous preacher, Peter Dathenus. In August 1566 the iconoclastic outbreak took place, and most of the works of De Heere's father and probably his own perished either then or at the subsequent outbreak in 1578. In 1568 De Heere with others was banished, his school was broken up, and he took refuge with his wife in England. He was one of the elders of the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, in 1571, and was a witness to a baptism in the same church on 31 May 1576. The pacification of Ghent permitted De Heere to return to Ghent, but he does not seem to have done so until April 1577. In that year he subscribed at Ghent the protestant oath, and with his wife attended the public communion at Middelburg. In December 1577 he designed the pageants attending the entry of the Prince of Orange into Ghent, and subsequently published a description of them with verses laudatory of the prince. He now became a public official, and is described as ‘auditeur van de rekencamere.’ He again took a prominent part in the fêtes on the announcement in November 1581 of the betrothal of Queen Elizabeth to the Duc d'Alençon, and in 1582 on the entry of the last named prince into Ghent. When the Duke of Parma attacked Ghent, De Heere again left his native city. He died 29 Aug. 1584, according to some accounts in Paris. De Heere, besides being a voluminous writer, was a student of art, and possessed a collection of antiquities and works of art. He commenced a history in verse of the Flemish school of painting. Few of his pictures remain in his native country. At Copenhagen there is an allegorical picture of ‘The Wise and Foolish Virgins,’ dated 1570, by him, and a picture at Lille has recently been restored to his credit. In England he is chiefly known from his portraits, though a few allegorical pictures have been noted from time to time. It is difficult to ascribe with certainty to him all those portraits which bear his monogram with a date, while others are of even more doubtful authenticity. The earliest dated portrait by him is that of Queen Mary, painted in 1554, now in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries at Burlington House; also portraits of Antony Kempe, 1555 (Vertue, Add. MS. 23071); Henry Fitzalan, lord Maltravers, 1557, in the collection of the Duke of Norfolk; William, lord Howard of Effingham, formerly in the Tunstal collection (engraved by J. Ogborne), and the double portrait of Frances Brandon, duchess of Suffolk, and her second husband, Adrian Stokes, 1559 (engraved by Vertue), formerly in the Strawberry Hill Collection, and in 1868 in that of Mr. C. Wynne Finch. To 1562 belong the portraits of Margaret Audley, duchess of Norfolk, in the collection of Lord Braybrooke at Audley End, and Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, her husband, lately in the collection of the Earl of Westmorland; to 1563 the portrait of Henry Stuart, lord Darnley (head engraved by Vertue), and his infant brother Charles, of which one example is at Windsor Castle, and another on a larger scale at Holyrood; there was also at Drayton an anonymous portrait of a nobleman signed with the date 1563. If De Heere really painted these portraits in 1562–3, he must have paid a second visit to England, or perhaps to Scotland, although Van Mander says that he painted portraits from memory. If he left Ghent in 1567, prior to his banishment in 1568, he may have been the painter of the interesting picture of the family of Lord Cobham, now in the collection of the Marquis of Bath at Longleat. The portrait of Henry VIII in the master's lodge, Trinity College, Cambridge, copied from Holbein's mural painting at Whitehall, is apparently dated 1567, unless it should be read 1564. In 1569 he painted the curious allegorical picture of Queen Elizabeth, attended by Venus, Juno, and Minerva, now at Hampton Court. In 1570 he was commissioned by the lord high admiral, Edward, lord Clinton, to paint a gallery with figures representing the costumes and habits of all nations. The idea may have been taken from Andrew Borde's ‘Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge,’ the Englishman being almost naked as Borde describes him. In April 1865 the communal archives at Ghent acquired a volume of water-colour drawings, interspersed with verse, and entitled ‘Theatre de tous les peuples et Nations de la terre, avec leurs habits et ornemens divers, tant anciens que modernes, diligemment depeints, au naturel, par Luc Dheere, peintre et sculpteur gantois.’ The contents of this volume exactly correspond to the paintings executed for Lord Clinton, the figure of the naked Englishman occurs, and there are other allusions and drawings relating to his stay in England. As one of the poems is dated 1580, the volume would seem to be a collection of studies made by De Heere, and added to from time to time. One of the figures represents the Greenlander, brought to England by Sir Martin Frobisher in 1576. Portraits by him are among the many attributed in this country to Holbein.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Blommaert's Levensschets van Lucas D'Heere; De Busscher's Recherches sur les peintres et sculpteurs de Gand au XVIme siècle; Walpole's Anecd. of Painting, ed. Dallaway and Wornum; Van Mander's Livre des Peintres, ed. Hymans, 1885; Michiels's Histoire de la Peinture Flamande; Moens's Registers of the Dutch Church, Austin Friars; Law's Cat. of the Pictures at Hampton Court; Catalogues of the National Portrait Exhibitions; information and assistance from George Scharf, C.B., F.S.A.]

L. C.