Adam Elsheimer (18 March 1578 – 11 December 1610) was a German artist working in Rome who died at only thirty-two, but was very influential in the early 17th century. His relatively few paintings were small scale, nearly all painted on copper plates, of the type often known as cabinet paintings. They include a variety of light effects, and an innovative treatment of landscape. He was an influence on many other artists, including Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens. Elsheimer was born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, one of ten children and the son of a master-tailor. His father's house (which survived until destroyed by Allied bombs in 1944) was a few metres from the church where Albrecht Dürer's Heller Altarpiece was then displayed. He was apprenticed to the artist Philipp Uffenbach. He probably visited Strasbourg in 1596. At the age of twenty, he travelled to Italy via Munich, where he is documented in 1598
His stay in Venice is undocumented, but the influence on his style is clear. He probably worked as an assistant to Johann Rottenhammer, some of whose drawings he owned. Rottenhammer was a German who had been living in Italy for some years, and was the first German painter to specialize in cabinet paintings. Uffenbach had specialized in large altarpieces, and although Elsheimer's earliest small paintings on copper seem to date from before he arrived in Italy, Rottenhammer's influence is clear on his mature work. Elsheimer is believed to have produced some significant works in Venice, such as The Baptism of Christ (National Gallery, London) and The Holy Family (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin) which show the influence of the Venetian painters Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, as well as Rottenhammer.