- Heem, Jan Davidsz de
- Dutch, 1606 - 1683/1684
Jan Davidsz de Heem was born in 1606 in Utrecht to a Catholic family. He received his early training with his father, David de Heem the Elder (1570-1632), who was also a painter. In 1626 he moved to Leiden where he married his first wife, Aletta van Weede, a native of Utrecht. Nearly a decade later, in 1635, De Heem moved to Antwerp and entered its Saint Luke's Guild. A year after the death of Aletta in 1643, the painter married Anna Ruckers, a native of Antwerp. Although De Heem would spend many years in her hometown, he also spent periods of time in the north. In addition to an extended stay in Utrecht in 1649, he also resided there between 1667 and 1672; he rejoined its painter's guild in 1669. Following the French invasion of the city in 1672, De Heem returned to Antwerp, where he lived until his death in 1683 or 1684.
The few works known from De Heem's first Utrecht period resemble those of the still-life painter Balthasar van der Ast. While active in Leiden, De Heem painted tonal still lifes with vanitas subjects - books, writing and smoking implements, musical intruments, skulls and hourglasses - that relate to works by contemporary Leiden artists David Bailly (1584-1657) and Harmen Steenwijck (1612-after 1656). Following his move to Antwerp, the work of Flemish still-life painter Daniel Seghers (1590-1661) provided an important model for De Heem. De Heem's compositions became more elaborate, as he depicted bouquets and garlands of flowers, baskets of fruit, and other motifs such as glasses, insects, and illusionistically painted drapery. Occasionally he incorporated background views to a distant landscape or seascape.
During his long and productive career De Heem was especially admired because of the realistic way he painted gold and silver. His paintings vary from small cabinet pieces to large banquet paintings containing luxurious pronk objects. He also is known to have collaborated with other painters, including Jan Lievens (1607-1674). Among his many students and followers were Abraham Mignon, Carstian Luyckz (1623-after 1674) and Joris van Son (1623-1667). [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
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- De Mirimonde, A. P. "Musique et symbolisme chez Jan Davidszoon de Heem, Cornleis Janszoon en Jan II Janszoon de Heem." Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (1970): 241-296.
- Bergström, Ingvar. "Another Look at De Heem's Early Dutch Period - 1626-1635." Mercury 7 (1988): 37-50.
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- Bok, Martin Jan. "Jan Davidsz. de Heem's Birthplace and Family." Mercury 11 (1990): 48-52.
- Segal, Sam. Jan Davidsz. de Heem en zijn Kring. Exh. cat. Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig. The Hague, 1991.
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