- Huysum, Jan van
- Dutch, 1682 - 1749
Jan van Huysum was born in Amsterdam on April 15, 1682. His father, Justus van Huysum the Elder (1659-1716), was also an artist, as were his three brothers, Justus the Younger, Jacob, and Michiel. Justus the Elder was a prolific painter of large flower-pieces--often as part of complete decorative schemes that he designed for patrons' houses--and also seems to have been active as an art dealer, so the early training that Jan received from his father was in the context of a flourishing art business. Among the few facts known about his life is that he married Margrieta Schouten in Amsterdam in 1704.
Van Huysum rapidly established a reputation as the leading still-life painter of his time. Auction records indicate that his paintings sold for as much as 1450 guilders during his lifetime, and his noble patrons included Prince William of Hesse, the duc d'Orléans, the kings of Poland and Prussia, the elector of Saxony, and Sir Robert Walpole, later Earl of Orford. He was, furthermore, highly praised by contemporary authors.
Van Huysum is reputed to have been fiercely secretive about his techniques, forbidding anyone--including his own brothers--to enter his studio for fear that they would learn how he purified and applied his colors. He only had one pupil, Margaretha Haverman (1720-1795), whom he reportedly took on only in response to great pressure from his uncle. It is widely reported that Haverman's work soon inspired such jealousy in her teacher that she had to leave his studio.
Unlike most Dutch still-life painters, Van Huysum produced a large number of drawings, mostly compositional studies for entire flower paintings but also some detailed depictions of individual blooms. His keenness for studying flowers from life led him to spend a portion of each summer in Haarlem, then as now a horticultural center. Van Huysum probably also executed at least some elements of his easel painting from life, rather than from drawings. This method of working may explain why some of his paintings bear two different dates.
Van Huysum's reluctance to teach anyone else his techniques did not prevent the perpetuation of his popular style of painting by numerous followers and imitators, both during and after his lifetime. Some of the most notable were Jan van Os (1744-1808), his son Georgius Jacobus Johannes van Os (1782-1861), the brothers Gerard (1746-1822) and Cornelis van Spaendonck (1756-1840), and Wybrand Hendriks (1744-1831). In addition to still lifes, Van Huysum painted a number of Italianate landscapes. He died in Amsterdam in 1749.[This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
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- Grant, Maurice Harold. Jan Van Huysum, 1682-1749. Leigh-on-Sea, 1954.
- Bergström, Ingvar. Dutch Still-Life Painting in the Seventeenth Century. Translated by Christina Hedström and Gerald Taylor. London, 1956: 226-228.
- White, Christopher. The Flower Drawings of Jan van Huysum. Leigh-on-Sea, 1964.
- MacLaren, Neil. The Dutch School, 1600-1900. Revised and expanded by Christopher Brown. 2 vols. National Gallery Catalogues. London, 1991: 1:207-208.
- Wheelock, Jr., Arthur K. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 142.