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Jan van Kessel

1626 – Antwerp – 1679

The grandson of Jan Brueghel the Elder on his mother’s side, and the nephew of both Jan Brueghel the Younger and David Teniers, Jan van Kessel was influenced more by his grandfather and his uncle than by his apprenticeship with Simon de Vos. His name appeared in 1645 on the registers of the St Luke Guild.

He specialised in painting animals, birds, batrachians and insects, which he especially featured in his paintings of the four elements, the four corners of the world (in museums in Cambridge, Madrid, Prague and Strasbourg), allegories, fables and very small-sized works for cabinet rooms. Jan van Kessel was also one of the century’s most brilliant floral painters. His roses, often pink in colour, or tulips, were finely detailed and arranged in loose bouquets. This subtle attention to detail can be seen in his still lifes of fruit and in the way he depicts objects in his paintings: dishes, baskets, vases. The charm of his delicately and precisely painted compositions, as well as the bright, strong tones of his colours make Jan van Kessel one of the most endearing and valued Flemish painters.