Sunday, November 9, 2014

Jan Lievens

Portrait of Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
oil on panel
57 x 44.7 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Jan Lievens (1607-1674) and Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) were born in Leiden just over a year apart, studied with the same master, and lived near one another, their names are forever conjoined. It is evident that as aspiring artists, they developed a symbiotic relationship that benefited them both. Rembrandt’s posthumous fame as the greatest artist of the Dutch golden age has left Lievens in his shadow, described as a follower or student, even though Leivens began his career some years before his compatriot.

He was already an apprentice painter at the age of eight. First in his native Leiden and from 1617 to 1619 under Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, later, he moved back to Leiden, where he worked together with Rembrandt for over five years. After 1631, he spent three years in London and his style began to change under the influence of Anthony van Dyck’s portraits. And when he saw Rubens’s work in Antwerp in 1635, he adopted the Baroque style completely. In 1644, he returned to Amsterdam, where he remained for the rest of his life. He received major commissions in the Dutch Republic. The city of Amsterdam was another major patron.