Jan Davidsz. de Heem
* 1606 Utrecht
† 1683 Antwerpen
Jan Davidsz. de Heem was born at Utrecht in 1606. A document from 1625 mentions the painter Jan Davidsz. van Antwerp. That year he planned a journey to Italy, however, he was unable to come up with sufficient financial means. Together with his mother and his stepfather Johan Coornhert, a bookseller, the young man moved to Leiden the same year, where he began using the name "de Heem".
Nothing is known about the education of Jan Davidsz. de Heem, who would specialize in the field of still live painting. Earliest works from the second half of the 1620s show a certian closeness to the flower pieces by Balthasar van der Ast and the "monochrome Banketjes" made by Willem Claesz Heda, for example.
Jan Davidsz. de Heem married Aletta van Weede in 1626, who would give birth to three children. The son Cornelis de Heem also pursued a career as a painter. After his first wife´s death in 1643, Jan Davidsz. de Heem married Anna Ruckers in 1644, none lesser than Jacob Jordaens was the witness to their marriage.
In 1631 Jan Davidsz. de Heem left Leiden and presumably lived for some time in Amsterdam, before he settled in Antwerp for good. There are records of his membership in the painters´ gild for 1635/36, in 1637 he was granted civil right. Jan Davidsz. de Heem was also a popular teacher in Antwerp, teaching the painters Michiel Verstylen, Andries Benedetti, Alexander Coosemans, Lenaert Rougghe and Thomas de Clerck.
As still life painter Jan Davidsz. de Heem always tried out different types of this genre, attaining his very characteristic style in the 1640s in form of highly decorative arrangements of fruits, table devices, flowers and animals on a table plate.
Jan Davidsz. de Heem presumably returned to Utrecht before 1660 and opened a workshop, which Abraham Mignon joined in 1664; in 1669 Elias van den Broek began an apprenticeship with Jan Davidsz. de Heem. In 1672 Jan Davidsz. de Heem returned to Antwerp, documents of the painters´ gild notes his death in their business year 1683/84.