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Jacob de Backer (1555-1585) was a strange and little-known figure of which little is known. He lived for only 30 years, and he did not leave any signed by him a picture. He was certainly born and spent his entire life in Antwerp and worked as a contractor for an Italian painting trader. There is no evidence that he was admitted to the guild of the artists of Antwerp. His paintings have a very strong influence on the Italian style Mannerism, in particular, Giorgio Vasari's so-called "high-style", but Jacob de Backer, unlike many of his contemporary Flemish artists, has never visited Italy. He was obviously well educated for his time, which is evident from the free manipulation of ancient stories and symbols in his paintings. In fact, only three paintings have certainly been identified as belonging to de Backer and a few dozens supposedly were his own. Researchers build this assumption on the basis of stylistic peculiarities and common themes. Their task of identifying original paintings by this artist is even more disturbed by the different variants of the same painting. Typically, the criteria taken into account are the limited time spent by this Flemish artist to his work, as well as the region of South Holland, where his alleged paintings are painted.
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