Jan Lievens Portrait

Jan Lievens Biography


Dutch Baroque Painter

Jan Lievens (1607-1674) was a painter and visual artist from Leiden. In his early years he was a student of Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. After two years as an apprentice he began his career as an independent artist at age twelve in Leiden.

Lievens collaborated and shared a studio with Rembrandt van Rijn in 1626. Their collaboration was intimate enough to cause difficulties in the attribution of works from this period. Lievens showed talent for painting in a life-size scale, and his dramatic compositions suggest the influence of the Caravaggisti. In Constantijn Huygens' assessment, Lievens was more inventive, yet less expressive than Rembrandt. The two men split in 1631, when Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam and Lievens to England. In 1656 Rembrandt still owned paintings by his former friend.

During his time in England Lievens painted a portrait for Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel, and became influenced by the works of Anthony van Dyck. Lievens worked in Antwerp, The Hague, and Berlin, returning to Amsterdam in 1655. After his first wife died he married a sister of Jan de Bray in 1648. At the end of his life Lievens had increasing financial difficulties and his family voided all claims of inheritance on his death due to his debts.