Michael Prodger at Literary Review:
Contemporary accounts suggest that Elsheimer was an attractive personality but ‘very solitary and contemplative’: walking through the streets, ‘he would be so caught up in thought that he would not say anything to anyone unless they spoke to him first’. He was also a perfectionist and an achingly slow worker, traits which led to his imprisonment for debt, since he could not bring himself to churn out works to satisfy his ready market. Incarceration did not spur greater productivity but exacerbated his pre-existing depression.
Elsheimer, as one of his circle put it, ‘grasped Nature’s spirit and essence’. His paintings, says Bell, are products of the shift in the natural sciences to greater objectivity. Elsheimer moved in a circle that contained the collector and papal botanist Johannes Faber and the Accademia dei Lincei, a group of empiricists with Galileo at its heart. He was familiar with current intellectual enquiries, put his eye to one of the first telescopes and was an expert in herbal medicine.