Peter Tillemans (Antwerp, circa 1684 - Suffolk, 1734) was a painter from Brabant who was mainly active in England in the first half of the 18th century and became famous for his paintings of hunting scenes and landscapes.
Tillemans was born in Antwerp about 1684 as the son of a diamond cutter. He studied painting under several masters. He is believed to have married before leaving Antwerp, as he married the sister of another Flemish painter, Peter Casteels. Like other artists from the Low Countries, Tillemans moved to England. Tillemans made the crossing in 1708 at the insistence of an art dealer named Turner to copy battle scenes and genre pieces for him. His brother-in-law Peter Casteels immigrated with him. Peter Tillemans would continue to work in England for the rest of his life.
In 1711 he became a member of the newly established Academy of Painting and later joined the Society of the Virtuosi of St Luke and became a steward of the Society in 1725. He lived mainly in Westminster, but often traveled on commissions. From 1715 he found a loyal patron in Dr Cox Macro, of Little Haugh, Suffolk. In 1719 he was commissioned by the antiquarian John Bridges to make about 500 drawings for a planned history of Northamptonshire. Peter Tillemans was a member of the Rose and Crown Club, which for a time was one of the foremost clubs of artists and connoisseurs in England. and which included William Hogarth, George Vertue and Michael Dahl. Tillemans suffered from chronic asthma and retired to Richmond, London for health reasons. He died in Suffolk on 5 December 1734 at the home of Dr Macro, having worked on the portrait of a horse the day before. He was buried on December 7 in Stowlangtoft. Dr Macro commissioned John Michael Rysbrack to create a bust of Tillemans and placed it "in an alcove at the top of a staircase in Little Haugh Hall". A portrait of Tillemans, engraved by T. Chambers after a painting by Hissings, is included in Fuseli's 1805 revised edition of Rev. Matthew Pilkington's A Dictionary of Painters.
Tillemans' first works in England were copies of battle scenes, in particular the works of Jacques Courtois, and minor genre pieces. He enjoyed success with imitations in the style and execution of David Teniers de Jonge.
Tillemans worked in many different styles and usually did not date his work. After initially making copies of paintings of battles for Turner, he quickly established his name with his original works. Among his first major commissions in England were two paintings showing the interior of the Palace of Westminster, one of Queen Anne in the House of Lords (1708-1714), the other of the House of Commons in session (around 1710). Before 1711, Tillemans became a member of Godfrey Knellers Academy of Painting and Drawing in Great Queen Street, London, specializing in "landskip" (landscape). Dr Cox Macro, his most loyal patron, regularly commissioned him from 1715 on painting commissions, including battle scenes, hunting scenes. , landscapes, renovations and portraits. In 1716 Tillemans partially repainted a portrait of Dr Macro by Frans van Mieris from around 1703 by changing the face. That same year, he also painted Dr Macro in the background of a self-portrait in his art studio together with an apprentice and surrounded by paintings.
Tillemans made the majority of his works from 1720 onwards, and his fame is mainly due to these works. During the early 1720s, Tillemans successfully shifted the focus of his painting to painting dogs, horses and racing scenes. This made him one of the first painters of hunting scenes in England