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How to Paint Landscapes in the Manner of Jan Van Der Heyden, Dutch, 1637-1712

April 2016 Getting back to painting a like Heyden so come back in May and is the updates.

Painting in the old Dutch manner could seem to be undaunting but remember Jan Van Der Heyden was thirty in 1667. They did not have all the art materials we have today, they had the basics.

This manner hinges on painting once on each area of the painting. The work is done wet and appears flawless.

Start with a perfectly smooth canvas. Apply gesso with a triangle palette knife, scraping a thin coat, letting setup and then scraping another and another coat until there are no indications of weave or grain, if it is a board. Once smooth by scrapping, scrap it with a single edged razor blade. You could spray it with gesso to get it as smooth as possible. Do this also when you paint like William Adolphe Bouguereau, French, 1825-1905.

The reason for this smoothness is the paint is applied transparently and any imperfections in the surface show up in the transparent paint film.

You could paint on metal that has been sprayed with a matt white enamel. This surface is used when melting oil pastels using a heat gun to heat the surface and then melting the crayons on the surface. Once again, if the surface has any imperfections it shows in the paint film.

This manner is painting with pigment tinted thickened castor oil. Castor oil from the drug store is heated on a hot plate for ten days. Unthickened castor oil straight from the drug store drips on the verticle surface. Include a slight 1% of bees wax mixed with mineral spirits medium from Gamblin to keep the castor oil from dripping. You want to create a glossly surface with a good film thickness.

Castor oil is the seed oil that takes the longest to dry. Being a seed oil from the castor plant it will dry eventually.

In this manner the thing to remember is that it may take several months to complete a painting. Using a medium of Dammar varnish, stand oil and oil of clove diluted with turpentine gives you ten days to work until the paint started to dry. If you want a flawless work without overpainting you would complete sections at a time carefully removing the pencil sketch as you worked since the pencil would show through. Using castor oil you have months to work at you leisure and can establish the whole color feeling of the work without paying attention to detail until ready.

You wait one or two years to varnish works done in this manner. Float the painting in the frame so no part of the painted surface touches the frame. The frame has a liner and glass is placed between the liner and the frame. Air can circulate around the painting and then in one or two years the surface has set up enough to spray Dammar varnish on the surface. Light coats of varnish are sprayed on until the surface is sealed. The varnish becomes part of the paint and cannot be removed since the castor oil paint dries but is not hard. You can scratch the surface with your fingernail. George Stubbs 1724 - 1806, English, painted in a like manner. It was a manner that acted in the same way. Trying to validate this with the British Museum of Art in New Haven, Connecticut but so far have not connected.

Painting of Jan Van Der Heyden, Dutch, 1637-1712, a traditional Dutch landscape.

Country Estate Goudestein Click to open high resolution image in new window

Anonymous sale ("Property of a Midwest Private Collector"), New York, Sotheby's, 12 January 1989, lot 118, unsold;
Anonymous sale, New York, Christie's, 29 January 1998, lot 109;
There purchased by the present collector.
Oud Holland, XXX, 1912, p. 134;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, London 1927, VIII, p. 350, cat. no. 72;
H. Wagner, Jan van der Heyden 1637-1712, 1971, pp. 95-96, cat. no 128, reproduced p. 95, no. 128 (as by Jan van der Heyden, with figures executed by Adriaen van de Velde);
G. Schwarz, "Jan van der Heyden and the Huydecopers of Maarssenveen," in The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. II, 1983, p. 217, note 62;
P. C. Sutton, Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712), exhibition catalogue, Greenwich, Ct. 2006, p. 62, note 85.
The country estate, Goudestein, was located on the river Vecht near Maarssen and Maarsseveen. The Vecht had become a popular site with Amsterdam's wealthy citizens upon which to build their country houses. Goudestein, which was built for the powerful Huydecoper family, was one of the grandest. At the time this view was painted, it belonged to Joan Huydecoper II who inherited the position of Lord of Maarsseveen and Neerdijk following his father's death in 1661. He was a member of the Amsterdam Town Council, became a director of the East India Company in 1666 and burgomaster in 1673. During this time, he was an important patron and supporter of both Jan van der Heyden and his brother, Nicolaas. Through Joan II's auspices, Jan was appointed supervisor of street lighting in Amsterdam and later, with his brother, head of firefighting. These careers, in fact, proved far more lucrative for Jan than his artistic one.
Van der Heyden painted at least six views of Goudestein from different aspects of which two are dated in the years 1666 and 1674.1 Two views were listed in the 1712 inventory listing of the artist's widow and the present work is thought to be identifiable with one of these two.2 The Goudestein house depicted by van der Heyden was eventually torn down and rebuilt in 1754. The house remained in the Huydecoper family until 1955 when it was sold to the town of Maarssen and now serves as the Town Hall.

1. See Wagner, op.cit., cat. nos. 129 and 125 (Wellington Museum, Apsley House).
2. Hofstede de Groot, op.cit., identifies the present painting as possibly no. 34 of the inventory while Wagner, op.cit., identifies it as possibly no. 35, both of which were designated for the painter's son, Jan: "De plaats van Goudestein, van voore klyn [The place of Goudestein, in front small], no. 34, in the share of Jan Jr.; and "Ditto van Achteren klein, met leist" [The same from the back small, with frame].

Image of Jan Van Der Heyden, Dutch, 1637-1712 painting, a Dutch landscape painter.

The Huis ten Bosch at The Hague and Its Formal Garden (View from the East) Click to open high resolution image in new window

Artist: Jan van der Heyden (Dutch, Gorinchem 1637–1712 Amsterdam)
Date: ca. 1668–70
Medium: Oil on wood
Dimensions: 15 3/8 x 21 5/8 in. (39.1 x 54.9 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Gift of Edith Neuman de Végvár, in honor of her husband, Charles Neuman de Végvár, 1964
Accession Number: 64.65.3
Of the collection of the Metropolitian Museum of Art, not on display
In the garden, two ivy-covered pavilions echo the shape of the central Hall of Orange and the cupola of the house. Classical sculpture and trellis-work obelisks mark the main walkways between the French-inspired parterres de broderie.


Amsterdam 1646 - 1712
moved with his family to Amsterdam in 1646, where his father registered himself as a grain trader; in 1656 living on the Dam; married in 1661 with the Utrecht Sara ter Hiel, who had relatives in Emmerich and Wesel; from Amsterdam, he traveled to the Rhineland and the Southern Netherlands. In 1670 het was appointed superintendent of the Amsterdam street lighting; Together with his brother Nicolaes he worked on inventions such as a water scooping wheel, a peristaltic pump and fire hose, published a book about it in 1670 (De Vries 1984)

painter, draftsman, print artist, etcher, inventor
North Netherlandish
Gorinchem 1637-03-05
Amsterdam 1712-03-28
died in his house at the Koestraat; his widow died 16 april. More than 70 paintings were in the house of mourning (De Vries 1984, p. 109)
Family relationschips
Notice of marriage 28 May 1661 to Sara ter Hiel from Utrecht (De Vries 1885). The following year Van der Heyden painted his coat of arms and his wife's (on copper, 34 x 31 cm, signed and dated: JVDHeide Ao 1662; collection MP Brands in Bergendal, on loan to the Amsterdam Historical Museum; Jan van der Heyden exhibition Amsterdam 1937, cat. no. 102)


Jan van der Heyden, (born March 5, 1637, Gorinchem, Neth.—died March 28, 1712, Amsterdam) leading painter of cityscapes in late-17th-century Holland, especially known for his views of Amsterdam done in the 1660s.

Little is known of his early life, though it is recorded that van der Heyden studied under a Dutch glass painter. In 1650 van der Heyden’s family moved to Amsterdam, where he lived for the rest of his life. Recurrent subjects in his paintings seem to indicate he traveled to Brussels, Cologne, and perhaps even farther before his marriage in 1661. Later in life he possibly visited London.

Although he painted a few landscapes and still-life pictures, van der Heyden’s reputation rests upon his architectural subjects—the town views that he painted in early maturity. In these he combined breadth of general effect with remarkable attention to detail. His feats of technical virtuosity, such as separately realizing each brick of his houses, have continually amazed his viewers. His pictures are well composed and harmoniously coloured, exploiting contrasts of foliage and mellow brickwork. His cityscapes were very influential in the development of architectural painting in 18th-century Holland. Van der Heyden was also interested in mechanical inventions and in 1690 published Brandspuiten-boek (“Fire Engine Book”), a study of fire-fighting equipment illustrated with his own etchings.


The Dutch painter Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712) left a lasting mark not only on the world of art, but on the world of firefighting as well. The talented landscape artist actually made his living—and a prosperous one at that—as an inventor and civil engineer. He didn't generally consider himself a professional painter and, despite having patrons, still owned most of his work at the time he died.

Today, we'll take a look at both aspects of his life: painter and inventor.

1. Jan van der Heyden received no real training in the visual arts. According to a source, “his only instruction consisted of a few desultory lessons received from an unknown glass-painter...” His reported inability to draw figures (“He could draw neither man nor beast, nor ships nor carts...”) may have been tied to his lack of formal artistic schooling. To compensate, he partnered with Adriaen van de Velde, who painted most of the figures in van der Heyden's paintings until van de Velde's death in 1672, at which point he received assistance from Johannes Lingelbach and Eglon van der Neer.

2. Branspuiten-boek (The Fire Engine Book) was written and illustrated by Jan van der Heyden and published in 1690. The famous book was the first firefighting manual ever published. Van der Heyden had been fascinated by firefighting since he was a boy, when he witnessed a fire in the town hall.

3. Considered to have been “the preeminent painter of cityscapes in the Netherlands,” van der Heyden employed a few tricks to get the über-realistic details seen in his paintings. To create the texture of bricks, he would press a metal plate into the paint while it was still wet. Similarly, he used moss or a sponge to create leaves on the trees.

4. Van der Heyden is often credited with the invention of the fire hose. In 1672, he and his brother Nicolaes created “a fire engine fitted with pump-driven hoses, which transformed the efficiency of fire-fighting.” The following year, van der Heyden was put in charge of the fire department, where he reorganized the entire brigade.

5. Although van der Heyden's paintings are incredibly realistic, some of the scenes depicted are not actually real. Van der Heyden was one of the forerunners—or the inventor, according to some sources—of the “architectural capriccio,” or depictions of fictional locations. In some paintings, he would rearrange or redesign elements to suit his desires, but others “are pure architectural fantasy.” One of his more well known imaginary cityscapes is “An Architectural Fantasy with a Triumphal Arch,” which combines Gothic structures and an Italianate atmosphere.

6. In addition to serving as the director of the fire department and painting for the likes of Cosimo de' Medici, van der Heyden was employed as the superintendent of the lighting for Amsterdam. He designed “a comprehensive street lighting scheme” that reportedly introduced lamp posts; it remained Amsterdam's street lighting scheme from 1669 until 1849. Other towns around the world took cues from van der Hyden's design.


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