Hamen y León, Juan van der
Spanish, 1596 - 1631


Van der Hamen was born in 1596 and baptized in Madrid, where he lived all his life. His father was a Fleming of noble ancestry, his mother was half-Spanish and half-Flemish, claiming descent from the Spanish nobility. The family was prosperous and provided its sons with a solid education; in fact Van der Hamen's brother Lorenzo distinguished himself as a man of letters.

Nothing is known of the painter's artistic training, except that it occurred in Madrid. The earliest record of his work as a painter dates from 1619, when he received payment for a still-life painting from the crown. This was the genre for which he would become famous, although he was also an excellent portraitist.

Van der Hamen held an appointment in the royal household as a member of the Royal Archers, an honorary corps of guards. However, his application to become a royal painter was not successful. He died in Madrid in 1631 at the young age of thirty-five. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]


Jordan, William B. Spanish Still Life in the Golden Age. Exh. cat. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth; Toledo [Ohio] Museum of Art. Fort Worth, 1985: 103-124.
Brown, Jonathan, and Richard G. Mann. Spanish Paintings of the Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1990: 84.

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