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Huysum, Jan van

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Jan van Huysum PAINTINGS and Biography

 Huysum, Jan van
Huysum, Jan van
1682 - 1749
  Jan van Huysum is probably the most prominent of all Dutch flower painters.
Jan van Huysum was born in 1682 in Amsterdam, the eldest son of Justus van Huysum the Elden. Jan and his youngest brothers, Justus the Younger, Jacob and Michiel van Huysum, all followed in their father’s footsteps and became flower painters. Jan van Huysum, however, was far more successful than his brothers. During his lifetime he acquired enormous fame, selling his paintings for astronomically high prices to courts all over Europe. People were prepared to pay several thousand guilders for one of Van Huysum’s still-life paintings. Among his customers were Louis XIV, Charles of Austria, the English Prime Minister and the Duke of Mecklenburgh. Van Huysum came to be known as the ‘Phoenix of Flower Painters”.

  Van Huysum’s early paintings dovetails seamlessly with the seventeenth-century tradition of Jan Davidsz de Heem and Mignon. Typical for his paintings in the suggestion of three-dimensional depth. Van Huysum set off his compositions against a dark background.

  Later Jan van Huysum paintings, after 1720, are quite different and reveal a more exuberant style, marked by asymmetrical compositions against a much lighter background. Convincing suggestion of three-dimension relations was no longer Van Huysum’s prime interest. Instead, van Huysum gave his paintings a certain exuberance and abundance by using light, pastel-like colours, striving for a primarily decorative effects.

  Van Huysum was secretive about his painting technique because he feared that someone might imitate his methods. These were supposedly different from those practised by early Dutch still-life painters. Now we know that his materials were not much different from those of his colleagues. Jan van Huysum was one of the first in the Netherlands to use newly introduced some new pigments. But the real difference was in the change from a dark background to a lighter one. His transparent or translucent paints had a luminosity, that could not be obtained in any other way.
 

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