Jan van Kessel the Younger

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Portrait of a family in a garden, 1679, Prado Museum

Jan van Kessel the Younger or Jan van Kessel II (Antwerp, 23 November 1654 - Madrid, 1708), also known in Spain as Juan Vanchesel el Mozo or el Joven, was a Flemish painter who was mainly active in Spain.


He likely trained under his father Jan van Kessel the Elder (1626–1679). Rather than becoming a master in the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke, he moved to Madrid where he became a painter to the court for which he made mainly portraits.[1] He gained recognition at court under the reign of Charles II of Spain for the portraits he made of Queen Marie Louise d'Orléans, first wife of Charles II. In 1686 he became officially the painter of the Queen. He is said to have received a commission from the Queen to paint scenes on the ceiling of her chambers in the Royal Alcazar of Madrid. Upon the death of the first wife of Charles II, van Kessel continued to serve as a portrait painter at the court and gained the favour of the king's new wife, Mariana of Neuburg.

With the change of ruling dynasty from the Habsburgs to the Bourbons with the accession to the throne of Philip V of Spain in 1700, the artist's popularity at court experienced a decline. This was likely due to his continued close relationship with the widowed former Queen. The new king was not happy with his work possibly due to the ascendancy of French tastes at the Bourbon court.[2]


Dwarfs with a dog, 1670s, National Museum, Poznań

He is said to have painted portraits, flower pieces, still lifes, game pieces and art galleries. However, it is not entirely clear whether he really painted still lifes and whether the attribution to him of still lifes is due to confusion with other artists with a similar name all active around the same time. In addition to his father, there was another Antwerp painter with the name Jan van Kessel (referred to as the other Jan van Kessel) who painted still lifes, while in Amsterdam there was a Jan van Kessel known as a landscape painter. To complicate things further, his father is sometimes referred to as Jan van Kessel II and Jan van Kessel the Younger as Jan van Kessel III.[1][3][4]

He was a specialist of the genre of group portraits, an example of which is the Portrait of a family in a garden in the Prado Museum, which depicts a Flemish gentleman (a protector of van Kessel) with his family. The painting includes a self-portrait of the artist who is leaning out of a window in the background. A copy of the work is in Warsaw.[5] A view of a street in Madrid now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum has tentatively been attributed to him.[6]


  1. ^ a b Jan van Kessel the Younger at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  2. ^ Jan van Kessel II at the Prado Enciclopedia online (Spanish)
  3. ^ 'the other' Jan van Kessel at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  4. ^ Jan van Kessel (of Amsterdam) at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  5. ^ Portrait of a family in a garden at the Prado Museum (Spanish)
  6. ^ Attributted to Jan van Kessel III, View of the Carrera de San Jerónimo and the Paseo del Prado with a Procession of Carriages at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Dr. Klaus Ertz & Christa Nitze-Ertz, Die Maler Jan van Kessel - Jan van Kessel d.Ä. (1626-1679), Jan van Kessel d.J. (1654-1708), Jan van Kessel der 'Andere' (um 1620-nach 1661), Luca-Verlag, Lingen, Germany, 2012.