Jan van Huysum

Jan van Huysum

An Italianate landscape with travelers and a washerwoman, near an ancient tomb

Jan van Huysum was born in Amsterdam in 1682. After training with his father, Justus I van Huysum, he became a collaborator in the family studio, where his brothers Justus II, Jacob and Michiel were also active. As Justus (the Elder) was primarily a painter of still lifes and interior decorations, he trained Jan in the same tradition. In 1704, Jan married Margrieta Schouten. He taught several pupils, including female artists such as Catharina Backer and Francina Margaretha van Huysum, his daughter. Van Huysum had many followers, including the self-taught artist Johannes de Bosch.

Jan van Huysum was and still is primarily known as a painter of flower still life paintings, for which he quickly became internationally renowned. Despite his supposedly introverted manner – the story goes he denied most people access to his studio – he was very successful in building up his international clientele, and quite a bit of personal wealth to boot. Despite his talent and success as a still life painter, Jan also depicted many Italianate or so-called Arcadian landscapes, often with classical edifices or imaginary ruins. This, too, he had seen with his father Justus, who also specialized in both genres.

The present work, an Italianate landscape, may count as one of the earliest examples of Jan’s work, when he was still active in his father’s studio: signed and dated 1699, he made it when only 16 or 17 years old! Only one other drawing from this very early period is known; it is of the same year and depicts a very similar Arcadian landscape and was sold at Sotheby’s Madrid in 1993.

Artist: Jan van Huysum (Amsterdam 1682 - 1749)
Medium: pen and grey ink and wash on laid paper
Dimensions: 145 x 190 mm
Signed: 'Jan van Huysum invent 1699', bottom center