Michiel Sweerts Biography
Born in Brussels, Michael Sweerts arrived in Rome in the mid 1640s, and rapidly moved into the circle of Flemish painters that had arrayed around Pieter van Laer, and that resided near Santa Maria del Popolo. In 1647, he attended meetings of the Accademia di San Luca, although not as a member. By 1659, he had returned to Brussels, where he joined the painter's guild.
He appears to have become mentally unstable in his last years. In Amsterdam, he joined the Jesuits as a "lay Brother" rather than a priest, and sailed from Marsaille to the East with a missionary group. Travelling to Jerusalem, and from there to Goa, where after causing tribulations to those around him, he died.
Sweerts is an enigmatic and difficult artist to categorize, since he seems to have absorbed a variety of influences to create an eclectic hybrid that can be described as a Netherlandish genre adaptation of an early tenebrist styles: a blend of Vermeer's genre of painting and Caravaggio-influenced full bodied figures.