Hercules Segers was one of the most eccentric seventeenth century artists. He preferred to paint and etch.
An etching is in fact a print of a design etched into a metal plate. This is obtained as follows. A smooth metal plate (usually copper) is coated with etching-ground, an acid-resistant mixture of wax, resin and asphalt. The design is scratched into this coating with a needle, exposing the metal beneath. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath, in which the mordant bites into the exposed metal, etching in the lines of the design. The finished plate is then coated with ink, which fills the lines. By pressing the plate onto a surface, the design is transferred. A single plate can be used for between 50 and 200 prints. The earliest etching in existence dates from 1513, mountainous fantasy landscapes. Segers achieved fame with his "printed paintings."
Segers used different techniques simultaneously. He made prints on canvas and finished his etchings in oil paint. As a result, each print by Segers is unique.': painted prints or prints on canvas. Few of his paintings have survived—no more than eleven. Of his 54 surviving etchings 183 impressions exist, each differently finished. Born into a Flemish immigrant family and a pupil of Gilles van Coninxloo, Segers fits firmly into the Flemish landscape tradition. His work was highly popular in the seventeenth century. For example, it influenced Rembrandt, who owned 8 works by Segers.
A stadholder (the word means viceroy or governor) represented the sovereign in a part of the latter's domain. He was both administrator and general. When the provinces of the Low Countries revolted against Spain in the late sixteenth century the office was retained. But now it was the provinces themselves that appointed the stadholder. Each province had its own stadholder, although the same person was often appointed in more than one province, and the Danish king also acquired works of his for their collections. Segers lived in Haarlem, Amsterdam and Utrecht.