Happy Birthday Claes Berchem!! Born in Haarlem, in 1620, this Dutch painter studied under several masters including his father who was a still life painter. Claes initially painted portraits, Biblical scenes and Dutch landscapes, but really developed his style after traveling to Italy in 1642. There he created a technique through a gorgeous golden haze for Italian landscapes. His works were dotted with vague ruins and buildings as well as travelers and shepherds. In addition to painting his own, he also inserted figures in other painters’ works. Berchem was quite productive, creating some 850 paintings as well as hundreds of drawings and etchings, allowing him to be one of the best-paid artists of his time. I particularly like the landscape below for its unusual vantage point from below the arch. The simplistic blocking of color in the rocks lends a majestic air to the work.