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Marten Pepijn's years of apprenticeship are obscure, but in 1600 he became a master in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke. The following year he married Maria Huybrechts, with whom he had five children. One son became a painter, as did his daughter Katherine Pepijn (1619-1668), who painted portraits of clerics in the style of Rubens and van Dyck. Between 1602 and 1628 Marten Pepijn took on eight apprentices. His portrait was painted by van Dyck (1632; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp). It was suggested that Pepijn had travelled to Italy and that Rubens, who viewed him as a rival, was pleased to see him go; this tale is unlikely in view of the inequality of talent and because the two men were friends.
Two signed and dated altarpieces by Pepijn (both Antwerp, St Elisabeth Gasthuis), the triptych of St Elizabeth of Hungary (1623) and the triptych of St Augustine (1626), as well as the Crossing of the Red Sea (1626; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp) and St Norbert (1637; Antwerp Cathedral) all reveal an old-fashioned style, with stiff poses reminiscent of 16th-century sculpture. The influence of Ambrosius Francken the Elder is marked. A striking feature of Pepijn's oeuvre is its strong quality of portraiture (e.g. St Bernard and the Duke of Aquitaine; Valenciennes, Musée des Beaux-Arts).
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