Born in Westphalia, in either Münster or Rees, Boeckhorst moved to Antwerp around 1626. He had a close relationship with Rubens's studio, finishing paintings designed by that master as well as assisting with large series such as the joyous entry of Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand in 1635 and the Torre de la Parada. He also collaborated as a figure painter in landscapes and still lifes by Jan Wildens and Frans Snyders, and sometimes painted lively group portraits. He traveled to Italy in the years 1635-1639 and joined the Bentvueghels with the nickname Lange Jan (Tall John).
Cornelis de Bie, in his Gulden Cabinet der Edel Vry Schilderconst (The Golden Cabinet of the Honourable Free Art of Painting; 1662), remarks that Boeckhorst was a student of Jordaens. Works in that master's style include large genre paintings of the 1640s such as Peasants going to Market (Antwerp, Rubenshuis), which also acts as an allegory of the four elements.
In the 1650s and 1660s Boeckhorst painted altarpieces for churches throughout Flanders and designed cartoons for tapestries. The expressiveness of Van Dyck's figures and use of colors, such as in Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes (Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen), is also noticeable in works from this period. Boeckhorst died in Antwerp.
- Galen, Maria (2012). Johann Boeckhorst: Gemälde und Zeichnungen. Hamburg: Baar. (catalogue raisonné)
- Vlieghe, Hans. "Boeckhorst, Jan (van) [Bockhorst, Johann; Lange Jan]," Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, [8 November 2007].
- Vlieghe, Hans (1998). Flemish art and architecture, 1585-1700. Pelican history of art. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07038-1
Media related to Jan Boeckhorst at Wikimedia Commons