Painter, draughtsman, etcher, commercial artist, flower painter, landscape painter, animal painter and still-life painter
Roelant Savery was born in Kortrijk in 1578, a son of Maerten Savery and Catelijne van der Beecke. When the city was occupied by Spanish troops in 1580, his parents, who were Mennonites, fled by way of Bruges to Haarlem. Roelant followed his older brothers Hans and Jacob in their artistic careers. According to Karel van Mander, he received his training from Jacob, and in 1602 was living with him in Amsterdam. After Jacob's death the following year, Roelant left for Prague, where he is documented beginning in 1604 and where he served as court painter to the emperors Rudolf II and Matthias. At the emperor's behest he travelled in Tyrol from 1606 to 1608, and returned with countless studies that he frequently inscribed with the notation "naer het leven" (from life). In 1613 he sojourned in Amsterdam with the permission of the court so as to be able to deal with family affairs. Two years later he was presumably back in Prague, though he is again documented in Amsterdam in 1616. In 1618, after a brief stay in Haarlem, he went on to Utrecht, where on 11 September he negotiated an endowment. In the following year he was accepted into the city's Guild of St Luke. In 1621 Roelant Savery moved into a house in Utrecht with a large garden, whose sumptuous plantings provided him and his friends, among them Balthasar van der Ast and the sons of Ambrosius Bosschaert, with blooms for their floral still lifes. With his highly refined animal pictures, Savery attained remarkable prices on the contemporary art market and also found aristocratic patrons, including the vice-regent of the Netherlands and King Charles I of England. In his testament from 17 December 1634 he named his nephew Hans as his primary heir. A short time later he fell into financial difficulties, and in September 1638 he was declared bankrupt. Savery died in Utrecht in February 1639 and was buried in the Buurkerk. He mainly painted animal pieces and floral still lifes, but also landscapes and genre scenes, most of which had peasant subjects. The influence of Flemish painters, especially Jan Brueghel and Pieter Stevens, is obvious in his works. His earliest dated paintings were done in 1600. In his Utrecht years he ran his workshop together with his nephew Hans Savery, who probably functioned as his assistant. The later landscape painter Allaert van Everdingen was his pupil.