Our Jan van den Hecke the Elder is said to have painted this small landscape on copper after his return in 1657 in Antwerp from a stay in Rome. Italianate landscapes were and still are fashionable.
About Jan van den Hecke I
Kwaremont 1619/20 – 1684 Antwerp
Versatile painter of still lifes (with either flowers, fruit or game) and also of some landscapes.
Pupil in Antwerp of the further unknown Abraham Hack, who was also the master of another well-known still life painter, Hieronymus Galle I (1625 – 1679).
Master in the Painters’ Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in the year 1641/42.
Van den Hecke was commissioned a comprehensive series of flower still lifes by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, the younger brother of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III (1608 – 1657). The Archduke was governor of the Spanish Netherlands (Flanders) from 1647 until 1656. He was an art lover who spent a fortune acquiring both Flemish and Italian paintings. Our painter is said to have stayed in Brussels in the 1650s to produce this commission.
Between circa 1653 and 1658 he must have travelled to Italy. One of his patrons in Rome was Paolo Giordano II Orsini, third Duke of Bracciano (1591 – 1656). Thieme and Becker (1923) also mention a stay in France.
Apart from that journey he always stayed in Antwerp, where he is documented between 1657 and his death in 1684.
About our painting
Our painting represents travellers resting in a Roman Campana landscape. Jan van den Hecke must have painted it after his return from Rome in Antwerp in 1657, as there was an important demand there for these kind of Italianate landscapes.
About paintings on copper plates
Seventeenth and eighteenth century Flemish (and Dutch) artists painted on oak panels, on canvas and on copper. Copper was the most expensive, but also the best support. Wooden panels can suffer from sudden changes in the degree of humidity, canvasses can be torn, while copper plates are less vulnerable.
Because of their even, highly rigid and non-absorbent surface, coppers did not need a preparatory layer (sometimes only a very thin ground) and one can paint extremely precisely, the paint could be applied almost without any visible brushstrokes. In old recipes it was advised to rub the copper plate with garlic, so that the oil paint would adhere better.
As copper was more expensive and as one could paint in a very detailed way on them, most copper plates are therefore of rather small dimensions.
Artists painted on copper delicate, elaborate and highly finished paintings with brilliant pictorial effects. Another advantage of these copper plates today is the fact that they have very little craquelure.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is such a luminous Italianate landscape painted on a copper plate.