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Barendsz was trained by his father, a painter known as deaf Barent, and in 1555, at the age of twenty-one, he travelled to Italy. He went to Rome and Venice, where he presumably worked for a while in Titian's studio. He returned to Amsterdam shortly before or during 1562, the year in which he married Agnies Florisdr., by whom he fathered at least eight children. He remained there for the rest of his life. He moved in cultivated circles and was an accomplished musician, mathematician and linguist. He introduced the Venetian style of painting to the Netherlands: strong colours and rapid, sketchy brushwork. Of his few surviving works there are two group portraits of members of Amsterdam's civic guard: Fourteen Guardsmen of Squad G (1562; Amsterdam, Historisch Museum) and the Perch Eaters (1566; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum). Their lively compositions provide a welcome change from the stiff civic guard groups typically produced around that time in Amsterdam. The only dated portrait to survive, Dirck Jan Hendricksz. (Amsterdam, Occo Hofje), was painted in 1567.
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