* 1607 Leiden
† 1674 Amsterdam
Jan Lievens, a real child of prodigy in his days, is regarded one of the most important painters of Northern Alpine baroque and a link between Dutch and Flemish School.
Jan Lievens was born in Leiden in 1607. His talent showed from an early point on, it must have been so great that he began an apprenticeship in painting in his hometown at the age of eight. In 1617, at the age of ten, he changed to the Amsterdam studio of Pieter Lastman, who was at that point innovating Dutch history painting. Jan Lievens remained student of Pieter Lastman for two years. Afterwards, he began working as an independent artist – at the tender age of the 12.
After he had completed his education, Jan Lievens returned to his hometown Leiden. The influence of the Utrecht Caravaggisti became obvious in works from this epoch. During those years Jan Lievens preferred large history paintings. In Leiden Jan Lievens also came in contact with Rembrandt, with whom he closely worked together for half a decade in the 1620s, but the two young painter geniuses were also close friends during the Leiden years.
Between 1632 and 1644 Jan Lievens spent most of the time in England (London) and Antwerp, where he encountered and began to love the Flemish baroque style. Portraits by Anthonis van Dyck had decisive influence on his style, just as the massive and vigorous works by the great Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens. In the following Jan Lievens works became brighter, more picturesque and more elegant. Graphic art, however, was not neglected either by Jan Lievens in those days. He also made important works in this genre.
In 1644 Jan Lievens traveled to Amsterdam again and eventually settled for good. At the peak of his career Jan Lievens received commissions from highest circles, as well as from the municipality. But yet, he was always troubled by financial worries.
Jan Lievens died in Amsterdam in 1674.