Arnold(us) van Haecken is a very rare painter and engraver who worked in his native Antwerp and in London.
Outside a typical English, Georgian country house a man presents the spoils of the hunt to a lady.
About Arnoldus van Haecken
Flemish painter and engraver
Antwerp circa 1700 – circa 1735/36 London
Genre scene painter.
There is very little information about our painter, as he sadly passed away very young, probably before reaching the age of 40.
It is thought that he was the brother of two other painters from Antwerp, who also moved to London circa 1719:
- Joseph van Aken (Antwerp probably 1699 – 1749 London), who after some time spelt his last name differently, having anglicised it to van Aken.
- Alexander van Haecken (Antwerp 1701 – died at the end of 1757 or the very start of 1758 London), who became an assistant of Joseph, and who was also active as a mezzotint engraver.
Both Joseph and Alexander lived and worked together.
Joseph was the most important painter of the three. In London Joseph had started painting pleasantly animated bourgeois interiors in subdued tonalities. But soon he specialised into an English novelty, conversation pieces: informal, but elegant group portraits in sophisticated colours of families or friends set in a domestic interior or more often in a garden setting. From circa 1735 onwards Joseph van Aken became best known as the top drapery painter of his age. He would paint the pose and the clothes of a figure, the portraitists he worked for completed the face and the hands. After his death, aged 50, Joseph’s brother, Alexander, took over this task as drapery painter for another ten years.
Many Flemish artists moved in those days to London, where a thriving art market developed: the landscape painter Peter Tillemans in 1708, his brother-in-law the still-life painter Peter Casteels III around 1717, the genre scene painter Peter Angellis circa 1719, the conversation piece specialist Joseph Francis Nollekens in 1733.
It is not known when exactly Arnoldus van Aken came to London.
During the year 1725/1726 he became Master in the Painter’s Guild of his birthplace Antwerp. He joined the Guild as a so-called ‘wine master’, indicating his father had also been a Master in the same Guild.
The British Museum in London holds eleven engravings, all signed ‘Arnold Vanhaecken’:
- ten form a series of fish still lifes (circa 1734/36);
- the eleventh shows a view of Billingsgate fish market (1736).
About our painting
A hunter with a riffle is flirting with a sumptuously dressed lady. At her feet we see the spoils of the hunt. At the top of the painting stands a marble statue of the Roman goddess of the hunt Diana (known as Artemis to the Greeks), carrying her bow in her right hand.
There are only two paintings known by our painter. Both are so-called conversation pieces: animated family portraits in a terrace setting outside a country house.
This new type of a combined genre scene - portrait painting was probably introduced in Britain by Philippe Mercier (1689 – 1760), a German painter whose family was of French Huguenot origin; he had been strongly influenced by the small-scale paintings of Antoine Watteau.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because this happy scene shows the life of the prosperous elite during the early Georgian times.