The biography of Jan Weenix (1642 - 1719)

Jan Weenix (1642 – 1719) was a Dutch Baroque painter and draughtsman, son of Jan Baptist Weenix and was his father’s pupil with his cousin Melchior d'Hondecoeter. He never visited Italy, but he painted Italianate scenes. Like his father he devoted himself to a variety of subjects, but his fame is chiefly due to his paintings of dead game and of hunting scenes.

His date of birth is not exactly known. He was born probably 1642 in Amsterdam. The family lived in a castle outside Utrecht, but his father died young and in poverty, after he went broke. Jan probably received his first instruction as a painter from his father, and it is possible that he helped finish certain of his father’s works. He probably remained in Utrecht after his father’s death.

By 1664 he had become a member of the Utrecht guild of painters in Utrecht. In 1679 Jan married Pieternella Backers. In 1675 he and his wife were living in Amsterdam.

In 1697 he made a portrait of Peter the Great, visiting the Republic to study shipbuilding, science and the art of fortification building. At that time Jan Weenix was employed to decorate a private house near the Admiralty of Amsterdam.

The five fixed paintings or wallpaper on canvas became very popular in the second half of the 18th century when nature and Rousseau were fashionable and copied. The wallpaper survived in the house until 1921. Then the enormous “paintings” were sold by the nuns to William Randolph Hearst in a private arrangement. After Hearst went broke, the paintings have been dispersed; one is in the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, two are in Hotel Carlyle in New York, one is in the Allen Memorial Art Museum and one is lost.

Between 1702 and 1712 Weenix was occupied with an important series of twelve large hunting pictures for the Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm’s castle of Bensberg, near Cologne. Also Eglon van der Neer, Rachel Ruysch, Adriaen van der Werff had a very good relation with the court, being paid well or knighted as ridder and most probably meeting an international crowd of artists and musicians.

Most of this collection is now at the Munich Gallery, but the paintings moved to the cellar. Also there are works in Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum), Augsburg, Barnsley, Cape Town, Dresden, The Hague, London, New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Oxford, Paris (Petit Palais), Toronto and elsewhere.

He died in Amsterdam, September 19, 1719.