About Jan de Baen
Haarlem 1633 – 1702 The Hague
Portrait painter. He occasionally painted genre scenes.
Son of a merchant.
De Baen lost both his parents at the age of three. From his youngest age he therefore lived with his uncle, the painter Hindrick Pijman, just outside Holland, in Emden in East Frisia in Germany, from 1636 until 1645. Pijman (or Piemann) painted landscapes influenced by Jan Brueghel I.
In 1645 de Baen moved alone to Amsterdam, where he remained until 1660. Here he studied painting under the portrait painter Jacob Adriaensz. Backer (1608 – 1651).
Circa 1660 he moved to The Hague where he remained until his death in 1702.
According to the painter’s biographer, Arnold Houbraken (in his ‘De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen’ from 1718), de Baen was invited circa 1666 by Lord Killegrey to come to England and paint his portrait and and a portrait of king Charles II.
De Baen had eight pupils, among them his own son, Jacobus (1673 –
circa 1700), who died at a young age in Vienna, and Johannes Vollevens I (1649 – 1728), Nicolaes van Ravesteyn II (1661 – 1750) and Hendrick van Limborch (1681 – 1759).
About the contemporary portrait painters in The Hague
De Baen moved to The Hague circa 1660 and he remained here until his death in 1702.
The Hague takes a particuliar position in Holland.
- Since the end of the 16th century it has been the residence of the Stadtholder (and of his court and of foreign diplomats) and of the States of Holland, the highest sovereign power within the Dutch Republic.
- But on the other hand The Hague was known as a stain: it was larger than a village, but it only got the title and the rights of a town in 1811, during a visit by Emperor Napoleon.
When de Baen arrived in The Hague the art market had been reorganised just a few years earlier: 48 fine painters had in 1656 dissociated themselves from the Guild of Saint Luke; they founded their own Confrerie Pictura. The so-called decorative painters continued to register in or to join the ancient Guild of Saint Luke.
Although circa 1660 there were already three elder portrait painters succesfully acitve in The Hague, that did not prevent our painter to be rapidly acknowledged here. Over the years he became a very important member of the new fraternity: he was often appointed as deacon or as governor.
De Baen’s arrival at The Hague falls in the First Stadtholderless Period (1650 – 1672), when the Republic reached the zenith of economic and military power. The Baen painted portraits for members of both the Republican and the Orangist factions.
His three concurents on the local portrait market were all older and all three worked internationally:
- Adriaen Hanneman (circa 1604 – 1671), who was strongly influenced by Sir Anthony van Dyck, worked during the first half of his career in England and during the second half regularly for English exiles in The Hague (they stayed here until Charles II came to power in 1660). Hanneman was the first dean of the newly created Confrerie Pictura.
- Pieter Nason (1612 – 1688/90), who often portrayed foreign ambassadors and officers. He stopped painting around 1675.
- Jan Mijtens (circa 1614 – 1670), who was well-known for his family portraits.
Soon after his arrival in The Hague circa 1660 de Baen overclassed these competitors. He remained very popular until circa 1690.
I should also mention Caspar Netscher (circa 1635/39 – 1684), who specialised in small portraits influenced by contemporary French painters. He arrived at The Hague in 1662, he produced at first mainly genre scenes, but turned to portrait painting around 1670.
About de Baen’s missing finger
Allegedly de Baen lost a finger during an attack by jealous colleagues. This incident did not handicap his further artistic production.
Abraham Bredius (1855 – 1946) discovered a notarial document from January 3rd 1671 that sheds another light on this unfortunate accident: a few nights earlier the shoes of de Baen were found standing in an open window of the house of mayor Johan Maes. Apparently our Casanova had left a lady headlong and he had run barefoot home in the snow. The document also mentions that de Baen lost a finger that very night … .
Bredius discovered another notarial document, form 1663 (two years prior to de Baen’s marriage), which mentioned that our ladies’ man had a relationship with a married lady.
Funny enough the Bredius Museum (indeed the same Bredius) from The Hague holds a magnificent, sweet self portrait of de Baen with his wife. It is thought it was painted during the first half of the 1670s.
About our painting
De Baen rarely dated his portraits.
But judging by the magnificent dress this lady is wearing it must date from the 1670s or 1680s.
She is holding a rose, symbol of love and loyalty.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a great portrait celebrating loyalty and love, painted by the Casanova of The Hague.