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JAN VAN DER HEYDEN (r637-1712)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 437 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAN VAN DER HEYDEN (r637-1712), Dutch painter, was born at Gorcum in 1637, and died at Amsterdam on the 12th of September 1712. He was an architectural landscape painter, a con-temporary of Hobbema and Jacob Ruysdael, with the advantage, which they lacked, of a certain professional versatility; for, whilst they painted admirable pictures and starved, he varied the practice of art with the study of mechanics, improved the fire engine, and died superintendent of the lighting and director of the firemen's company at Amsterdam. Till 1672 he painted in partner-ship with Adrian van der Velde. After Adrian's death, and probably because of the loss which that event entailed upon him, he accepted the offices to which allusion has just been made. At no period of artistic activity had the system of division of labour been more fully or more constantly applied to art than it was in Holland towards the close of the 17th century. Van der Heyden, who was perfect as an architectural draughtsman in so far as he painted the outside of buildings and thoroughly mastered linear perspective, seldom turned his hand to the delineation of any-thing but brick houses and churches in streets and squares, or rows along canals, or " moated granges," common in his native country. He was a travelled man, had seen The Hague, Ghent and Brussels, and had ascended the Rhine past Xanten to HEYLYN- Cologne, where he copied over and over again the tower and crane of the great cathedral. But he cared nothing for hill or vale, or stream or wood. He could reproduce the rows of bricks in a square of Dutch houses sparkling in the sun, or stunted trees and lines of dwellings varied by steeples, all in light or thrown into passing shadow by moving cloud. He had the art of painting microscopically without loss of breadth or keeping. But he could draw neither man nor beast, nor ships nor carts; and this was his disadvantage. His good genius under these circumstances was Adrian van der Velde, who enlivened his compositions with spirited figures; and the joint labour of both is a delicate, minute, transparent work, radiant with glow and atmosphere.
End of Article: JAN VAN DER HEYDEN (r637-1712)
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