Joachim wtewael
(utrecht 1566 – 1638)


The denial of saint peter 


oil on canvas
46.1 x 67.7 cm. (18.14 x 26.6 in.)
c. 1620

‘I deem Wtenwael [sic] among the best Dutch painters and it is astounding how much Pictura favours him […]’

Karel van Mander, Het Schilder-Boeck, facsimile of the first edition, Haarlem 1604 (Utrecht: 1969) (liberal translation), p. 297r.

Joachim Wtewael was born in 1566 in Utrecht and according to the contemporary biographer Karel van Mander, Wtewael was trained in his father’s glass painting workshop until he was eighteen. His first teacher in oil painting was Joos de Beer (d. 1591), who also taught Abraham Bloemaert (1566–1651).1 In 1586, after 2 years of training with de Beer, Wtewael travelled with his patron Charles de Bourgneuf de Cucé (d. 1617), Bishop of St Malo, to Italy and France.2 Wtewael worked for this patron for 4 years before returning to Utrecht, in which time he developed a style reminiscent of Parmigianino (1503–1540) and the school of Fontainebleau.3 After his return to Utrecht, he joined the Saddler’s Guild in 1592 and started a workshop. In 1611, he would cofound Utrecht’s first painters’ guild.4 Wtewael’s early Utrecht works show the powerful influence of the late Mannerist style of the trio formed by Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617), Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (1562–1638) and Karel van Mander (1548–1606), as well as the exaggerated Italianate manner of van Mander’s friend Bartholomeus Spranger (1546–1611). Wtewael is considered one of the most important and last exponents of Dutch Mannerism today.


Wtewael was one of the few artists who did not abandon Dutch mannerism after the late 1600s and kept incorporating stylistic elements from several schools in his work, as The Denial of St Peter from c. 1620 demonstrates. This nocturnal scene by Wtewael distinctly shows the impact of Caravaggio on Dutch artists at that time, evident in the chiaroscuro effects achieved here by the fire at the centre of the scene, whilst featuring his fervour for refined details, rich colouring and graceful, mannered poses, beautifully demonstrated by the S-shaped contour of the central figure. Apart from being a painter, Wtewael was also an active political figure, serving on Utrecht’s city council, and running a successful flax and linen business.5 He still managed to produce a significant oeuvre that demonstrates variety in size, support, and subject. Wtewael married and had four children, one of whom, Peter (1596–1660), was a painter who worked in his father’s style.6 Wtewael died in Utrecht in 1638.

1. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., “Joachim Wtewael, Biography,” accessed on 8 June 2021 from,
2. Neil MacLaren, The Dutch School, 1600–1800, Volume I, National Gallery Catalogues (The National Gallery: London, 1991), 501.
3. Anne W. Lowenthal, “Wtewael [Utenwael; Uytewael; Wttewael], Joachim (Anthonisz.),” Grove Art Online, modified 2003, accessed on 8 June 2021 from,
4. Wheelock, “Joachim Wtewael, Biography.”
5. Lowenthal, “Wtewael [Utenwael; Uytewael; Wttewael], Joachim (Anthonisz.).”
6. Wheelock, “Joachim Wtewael, Biography.”