(b Schoorl, nr. Alkmaar, 1 Aug. 1495; d Utrecht, 6 Dec. 1562). Netherlandish painter, the first artist to bring the ideals of the Italian Renaissance to the area we today call Holland. His training is said to have included a period in Utrecht with Gossaert, who probably encouraged him to visit Italy. Scorel set out in about 1518 and according to van Mander's account he visited various German cities on his way south, including Nuremberg, where he met Dürer.
When he reached Venice, he joined a group of pilgrims going to the Holy Land and visited Crete and Cyprus as well as Bethlehem and Jerusalem. After returning to Venice he made his way to Rome, where Pope Adrian VI, a native of Utrecht, appointed him curator of the papal collection of antiquities. Adrian died in 1523, however, and the following year Scorel returned to Utrecht, where he spent most of the rest of his life. He was the illegitimate son of a priest and Scorel himself took holy orders (this did not stop him fathering six children). He soon became the dominant artist in the northern Netherlands and his reputation spread to other countries (Francis I is said to have tried to engage him to work in France). Most of his work was religious, but he was also an outstanding portraitist. His paintings show how closely he had studied classical sculpture and the works of Raphael and Michelangelo while he lived in Rome. He was also influenced by the sensuous beauty of Venetian painting, as is seen especially clearly in his Death of Cleopatra (c.1523, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), a reclining nude in the Giorgione tradition. Unlike the works of many other Netherlandish masters, however, Scorel's pictures are no mere jumble of Renaissance motifs. His Presentation in the Temple (c.1535, KH Mus., Vienna), for example, is set in a convincingly Bramantesque building and the dignified figures are well integrated in their spatial setting. On the other hand, his interest in atmospheric effects is part of his northern heritage. Scorel was highly influential in the Netherlands, and his pupils included some of the leading painters of the following generation, notably Heemskerck and Mor.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)