Jan van Goyen

Date/place of birth

January 13, 1596, Leiden, Netherlands

Day/place of death

April 27, 1656, The Hague, Netherlands

Jan van Goyen - On the Beach at Scheveningen
Jan van Goyen - On the Beach at Scheveningen

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Jan van Goyen biography

Jan van Goyen, together with Pieter de Molyn and Salomon van Ruysdael formed the triumvirate of tonal landscape painting and drove the Dutch painting school to a new clarity and reality with its almost monochrome colour palette and dynamic perspectives.

Jan van Goyen – Lessons with Esaias van de Velde, freelance painter in The Hague

Jan van Goyen was born Jan Josephszoon van Goyen in Leiden on 13 January 1596. The eldest son of the shoemaker Joseph Janszoon van Goyen and his wife Geertgen Dircxdochter van Eyk, he received his first painting lessons at the age of ten. From 1606 to 1618 he was apprenticed to four painters: first by Jan de Man and Isaac Nicolai van Schwanenburgh, then the glass painter Clock, and finally by Willem Gerritszoon in Hoorn. Although van Goyen originally aspired to a career as a glass painter, during his training he increasingly solidified his wish instead to become a landscape painter. Following a short trip through France, he received his final artistic polishing in Haarlem with Esaias van de Velde. In 1618 he married Annetje Willensdochter van Raelst in Leiden and settled with her as a freelance painter. He must have achieved a certain prosperity in this, as he moved to The Hague in 1634 where he acquired not only citizenship but also a number of properties, including a house on the Veerkade.

A colour in many nuances, light and shadow

Jan van Goyen produced numerous sketches which served as drafts for his paintings, but the authenticity of many of the etchings under his name that have survived has been questioned. The selection of one main colour tone was characteristic for his work, which he fanned out in numerous graduations through the play with light and shadow, in order to depict the houses, ships, clouds and people of his homeland. Jan van Goyen took his motifs from his surroundings, although despite his leaning towards naturalism, he was not immune to exaggeration. He was highly regarded under his contemporaries and specialist colleagues and presided for a time over the Guild of Saint Luke in The Hague, and painted a striking panorama of the city for the town hall. His daughters Maria and Margriet married the painters Jacques de Claeuw and Jan Steen – Steen was one of the master’s few students, alongside Nicolaes van Berchem and Adriaen van der Kabel.

Economic difficulties, high productivity

Jan van Goyen worked not only as a painter, but also regularly as an art dealer and speculator, where he suffered great losses in the failed trade of tulip bulbs in particular. He subsequently fought great economic difficulties, which, however, never diminished his artistic inspiration. He attempted to bridge the financial constraints with the sale of his paintings, achieving immense productivity in the process, probably as a result of his plight. He also rented out his houses several times to various fellow painters including the landscape painter Johannes Schoeff, with whom he organised collaborative auctions, and the animal painter Paulus Potter. Despite this, van Goyen left a substantial mountain of debt after his death which was cleared by the extensive auction of his estate, paintings, furniture and properties. 

Jan van Goyen died in The Hague on 27 April 1656.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Jan van Goyen Prices

Jan van GoyenOn the Beach at Scheveningen€767.000
Jan van GoyenWINTER LANDSCAPE€268.400
Jan van GoyenCoastal Landscape with a Ferry and a Tower in the Background€193.750
Jan van GoyenRiver Landscape with a Tower, Village and Windmill€162.500

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