Dutch painter, one of the earliest and finest exponents of Caravaggism in northern Europe. Born into a Catholic family, he grew up in Utrecht, studied there with Bloemaert, then spent about a decade in Rome (c. 1604-1614). On his return to the Netherlands he became with Honthorst
the leader of Caravaggism associated with the Utrecht school. A second journey to Italy (c. 1620) has been postulated, as his later works are generally more thoroughly Caravaggesque than his earlier ones.
Terbrugghen was chiefly a religious painter, but he also produced some remarkable genre works, notably a pair of Flute Players (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Kassel, 1621), which in their subtle tonality - with dark figures placed against a light background - anticipated by a generation the achievement of painters of the Delft school such as Fabritius and Vermeer.
Although he was praised by Rubens,
who visited Utrecht in 1627, Terbrugghen was neglected by 18th- and 19th-century collectors and historians. The rediscovery of his sensitive and poetic paintings has been part of the reappraisal of Caravaggesque art during the 20th century.