About Jan Vonck
Torun (Poland) 1631 – 1663/64 Amsterdam
Painter of animal still lifes.
Pupil of his father, Elias (Amsterdam circa 1605 – 1652 Amsterdam),
who had been the first Dutch master to specialize in still lifes of game, probably under Flemish influence.
Jan Vonck was born in Torun, in Poland, which was also the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus, the astronomer who placed the sun instead of the earth at the centre of our solar system.
The city was founded in 1231 by the Teutonic knights (hence its German name Thorn). In the early 17th century its population of 30.000 was equal to that of Warsaw.
Certainly from 1639 on (the year of his sister's birth, when he was 8 years old) he lived and later worked in Amsterdam.
While his father favoured painting big canvasses holding prestigious hunting trophies, especially large birds (swans, herons, peacocks), Jan preferred painting common birds (sparrows, bullfinches, song thrushes or ducks) on smaller sized panels. These birds are either laying on a ledge or hanging from a rope.
Occasionally he also made some fish still lifes, which stand close to Abraham van Beyeren (The Hague 1620/21 – 1690 Overschie).
There are also a few landscapes with a dog and birds, vaguely reminding of Abraham Hondius (Rotterdam 1625 – 1691 London).
Both Elias and Jan have painted animals in landscapes by Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628/9 – 1682 Haarlem); Jan in a painting now in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister of Dresden.
Judging by the number of paintings by Jan Vonck mentioned in contemporary Amsterdam inventories his art must have been popular.
By the late 1650s however fashion changed towards more luxurious and elegant game still lifes by Willem van Aelst and Melchior de Hondecoeter.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is such a typical example of the genius of Jan Vonck: a rapid, efficient and economic technique enabled him to work with just a few colours and fast, loose brush strokes.