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Jan van Goyen
Nationality: 
dutch
Gender: 
Male
Birth Date: 
1596
Birth Place: 
Leiden
Death Date: 
1656
Death Place: 
The Hague
One of the finest landscape painters and draftsmen of the Dutch Golden Age, Jan van Goyen had a profound impact on subsequent artists who either copied his manner or were influenced by it. Born in Leiden on January 13, 1596, his father Joseph van Goyen (d. 1625) was a shoemaker who was an amateur artists and an art collector. Van Goyen must have showed artistic ability at an early age, for he was first apprenticed to a Leiden artist at the age of ten. He had studied with five artists by the time he was nineteen, when he embarked on a year of travel through France. After his return to Holland in 1617, van Goyen went to Haarlem where he studied with Elias van de Velde (1587-1630) for a year. Returning to Leiden, he married Anna Willemsdr. van Raelst (d. 1672) on August 5, 1618. Over his career spanning about 36 years, van Goyen produced a vast body of work. Over 1,200 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings have been attributed to him. The style of the surviving works from the beginning of his career is very similar to that of his teacher van de Velde, to the extent that it can be difficult to determine which artist created the work. Van Goyen’s style and palette evolved in the later 1620s, and by the 1630s his paintings exemplified what has been called the “tonal phase” of Dutch landscape painting. He and other artists such as Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/1603-1670) and Pieter Molyn (1595-1661) depicted local Dutch landscapes using a palatte of pale yellows, browns and greens. His drawing technique also evolved. After first working with pen and ink, he learned to create works in black chalk by the mid-1620s, and often used this technique for the rest of his life. His finished drawings intended for sale were often completed with grey or brown wash. Over his career the subjects of his works included a wide variety of landscape scenes; he is particularly noted for his winter scenes. In 1632 van Goyen moved to The Hague, and lived there for most of the rest of his life, although he traveled around the Netherlands and up the Rhine into Germany. He spent at least part of 1634 in Haarlem, where he is recorded as painting in the house of Isaack van Ruisdael (1599-1677), Salomon’s brother. Nicolaes Berchem (1621 or 1622-1683) was probably his student while van Goyen was in Haarlem. He obtained citizenship in The Hague in 1634 and at some point joined the artists’ Guild of St. Luke; he was its dean in 1638 and 1640. In addition to his work as an artist, he was an art dealer, auctioneer and appraiser, and speculated in real estate and tulip bulbs. “Tulipmania” was rampant in Holland at the time, and van Goyen apparently lost money in the tulip market. He was in debt for much of his life, and twice in the 1650s was forced to auction property to pay down debts. Two of his three daughters survived childhood, and both married artists in 1649. Margaretha (after 1622-1669) married Jan Steen (1626-1679), who was van Goyen’s pupil and worked with him until 1654. Sometime around 1651 he received two important commissions, one for The Hague’s Town Hall and another for the royal palace. Van Goyen’s influence on 17th-century art cannot be overstated; one scholar has listed some 75 artists directly influenced by him. Van Goyen continued to create art until the end of his life. From 1651 to 1653 he produced around 350 signed and dated drawings. The catalogue raisonné of his works dates 37 of his paintings to 1655 and one to 1656, the year in which he died. Burdened by his debts, his widow was forced to sell all of their property at auction, including their home. (TNB 3/2013). Selected Bibliography: Hans-Ulrich Beck. “Einführung in Leben und Werk” (Introducton to Life and Work), in Jan van Goyen 1596-1656: Ein Oeuvreverzeichnis. Vol. I, pp. 15-79. Amsterdam: Van Gendt & Col., 1972. Sutton, Peter C., Masters of 17th-century Dutch Landscape Painting. Exhibition catalog, pp. 317-332. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1987.