A versatile and distinguished painter, Cornelis (or Cornelius in English) Cornelisz (Corneliszoon, Dutch for ‘son of Cornelis’) added ‘van Haarlem’ to his name, after his native town. His parents left Haarlem during the Spanish siege and occupation (1572-77), leaving Cornelis with the painter Pieter Pietersz. After finishing his training, he left for France in 1579. Escaping the plague in Rouen, he settled in Antwerp briefly before returning to Haarlem for the rest of his long career. From about 1586 to 1591, Cornelis and the artists Hendrick Goltzius and Karel van Mander formed the so-called ‘Haarlem Academy’, a form of studio brotherhood. Cornelis became painter to the city of Haarlem and received numerous prestigious commissions, including monumental paintings for the decoration of the Prinsenhof in 1590. Initially excelling in the highly wrought style called Dutch Mannerism, he later developed a more balanced, almost classical approach. His subjects range from biblical stories to themes from ancient history and mythology, and from allegories to portraits. Cornelis’s many pupils include Gerrit Pietersz who in turn became the teacher of Pieter Lastman.