(b Hemessen, nr. Antwerp, active 1519–56). Netherlandish painter, active mainly in Antwerp, where he was the outstanding artist between the death of Massys in 1530 and the emergence of Bruegel in the 1550s. After visiting Italy early in his career, he was established in Antwerp by 1524. Like his contemporary Marinus van Reymerswaele, he specialized in scenes exposing human vanities and follies, such as greed and loose living (The Prodigal Son, 1536, Mus. Royaux, Brussels). The figures in these compositions are muscular and powerfully three-dimensional, placed close to the picture plane. Although the subjects are often religious, the pictures typically have a strong feeling of everyday life and they helped to found the Flemish tradition of genre painting.
Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)