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Deaf Artists:  Hendrick Avercamp

By Megan Martinez
April 03, 2009

Deaf Painter Hendrick Avercamp

     Hendrick Avercamp of Kampton was both mute and deaf. He was also referred to as "de stomme van Kampen", which translates to "the mute of Kampen."  He was a Dutch painter, whom studied under Danish painters. Why do I find this interesting? I am both part Dutch and Danish. I also used to be a Drawing and Painting major, so I am always interested in art history, especially concerning painters.
    Avercamp was famous for his winter themed paintings. He was both deaf and mute, and in many articles regarding his name and his work, he was labeled as ‘deaf and dumb'. I found this offensive and unnecessary for describing a great painter. Even his own mother referred to him as "mute and miserable" in her will. Obviously times have changed since the 17th century, also known as the Baroque Era.
    Avercamp worked alongside another well-known painter, Pieter Isaacks. Avercamp lived from 1585-1634. He went to a place called Kampton to study with several artists of Flemish painting styles. Throughout his lifetime, which was only about forty-nine years, Avercamp was really known for his winter paintings of the Netherlands.  Avercamp was known for one technique in particular:  portraits tinted with watercolors that could be pasted into albums.  His work was also colorful and lively. He tended to paint people in the landscape. His subjects were those in the trade, or in the streets. Today, Avercamp's work is scattered around, but Queen Elizabeth has a collection of his work at Windsor Castle, England. When I read this bit of information, I was both intrigued and saddened. I traveled to Windsor Castle several summers ago, and little did I know this great painters work was there. I would have loved to seen his work.
    Although Avercamp's work was from the 17th century, he did not live long enough to be around to enjoy the widespread use of sign language. (It was not until the 18th century that Abbe Charles Michel De l'Epee developed one of the first versions of a signed language. One of Abbe's first published books regarding Sign Language was titled Instruction of Deaf and Dumb using Methodical Sign.)   During Avercamp's time many people did not understand the concept of what it meant to be both mute and deaf. Many people probably thought he was incapable of certain trades because they themselves could not easily communicate with him.  Painting was one of the few trades he could be accepted into.  Being "deaf and dumb" is among the few details for which this artist is remembered. That is unfortunate because his work was profound.

Artist: Hendrick Avercamp. Hendrick Avercamp. In Art Encyclopedia [Web]. Turkish Paintings. Retrieved April 3, 2009, from p=59&l=2&modPainters_artistDetailID=603&t=true

Berke, Jamie (2009, March 5). Deaf Education Pioneer -Abbe Charles Michel De L'Epee     french teacher of the deaf. Retrieved April 3, 2009, from Web site:

Fookembug, (2008, October 8). 17th-century Deaf Dutch painter. Retrieved April 3,     2009, from Fookem and Bug Web site:


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