Figure painter, painter, portrait painter, etcher, commercial artist, engraver, draughtsman, copperplate engraver and publisher
Around 1580 Pieter (Claesz.) Soutman was born into a distinguished Catholic family in Haarlem. By 1615/16 he was working as a painter in Antwerp in the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens, but he was trained as an engraver under Jacob Matham. In 1619 he was accepted into Antwerp's Guild of St Luke, a year later he was granted citizenship in the city. In 1624 Soutman entered the service of King Sigismund III of Poland, at that time in exile in the southern Netherlands. According to an inscription on one of the artist's portraits, he was still Sigismund's court painter four years later, in 1628. In that same year Soutman left Antwerp and settled in Haarlem. There, in 1633, he both married Gudula Fransdr. van de Sande and became a full member of the Guild of St Luke. Willem van der Leeuw was among the engravers trained in his workshop. Apparently Soutman sought contact with the court of the vice-regent in The Hague: in 1630 he sent a portrait of the Prince of Orange to the States General (the Dutch legislature); it was rejected, however. Ten years later he sold eight series with portraits of members of the Nassau family (which he also offered to the Prince of Orange) to the mayor of Haarlem. In 1646 he was permitted to copy portraits of the counts of Holland in Haarlem's 'stadhuis' in order to produce engravings after them and sell them as a series. These efforts were apparently crowned with success: with the 'Triumph of Prince Frederik Hendrik', Soutman was instrumentally involved in the painting of the Oranjezaal in The Hague's Huis ten Bosch, which, along with the decoration of the Amsterdam 'stadhuis', was one of the most prominent projects in the northern Netherlands at that time. The artist died in Haarlem on 16 August 1657.
Pieter Soutman was primarily known as an engraver of reproductions of works by Peter Paul Rubens. He produced most of these after the master's death, when Soutman was active in Haarlem as a publisher. He frequently provided drawings as patterns for other engravers as well. As a painter he specialised in history paintings and portraits. In his works, mainly produced in the 1640s, Soutman combined influences from both Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, as well as stimuli from the Haarlem School, particularly Frans Hals.