Jan van den Hoecke

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Hercules between Vice and Virtue, Uffizi

Jan van den Hoecke (4 August 1611 – 1651), also known as Johannes or Giovanni and van Hoek, van Hoeck, or Vanhoek, was a Flemish Baroque painter, draughtsman and designer of wall tapestries. He was born and died in Antwerp.


Triumph of Time, tapestry design, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

It is believed that, like his brother Robert van den Hoecke (1622–1668), he first apprenticed with his father, the painter Gaspar van den Hoecke (1595–1648). He then worked in the studio of Peter Paul Rubens in the 1630s.[1]

Together with his father, Jan contributed to the decorations for the Joyous Entry of Cardinal-infant Ferdinand in Antwerp, the artistic design of which was under the general direction of Rubens. Jan painted monumental representations, as seen in his work Triumphal Entrance of Cardinal Prince Ferdinand of Spain (Uffizi Gallery).

He then travelled to Italy where he resided from at least 1637 to 1644. Here he seems to have become familiar with the paintings of Guido Reni and studied the antique. These influences explain the classicizing trends in his later work.[2] In 1644, the artist joined in Rome a select club, the Virtuosi al Pantheon.[1]

Van Hoecke traveled to Austria and entered the service of Emperor Ferdinand III in 1644. He also painted for Ferdinand’s brother, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria (1614–1662), including a Madonna and Child and a number of allegorical pieces. Van den Hoecke returned to his home country where he became the court painter for Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, then the Governor of the Southern Netherlands.[1][3]


Van Hoecke was a versatile artist producing historical paintings as well as portraits and designs for tapestries. His work combined the achievements of the art of Rubens with 17th-century Italian Classicism.[1]

Equestrian portrait of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, Groeningemuseum

His early style with its precise draughtsmanship can be found in his oil sketch of The Triumph of David (Kimbell Art Museum) (1635) that was for a long time regarded as a work by Rubens.[2][4] The influence of Reni’s idealized figure types as well as of Domenichino and Poussin (see the Virtue Overcoming Avarice of 1637)[5] are visible in the allegorical paintings he produced in Vienna while his familiarity with the work of Andrea Sacchi is reflected in his portraits of Emperor Ferdinand III and Archduke Leopold William. His style retained a certain reticence and a stiffness of composition as reflected in his Equestrian portrait of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm the static composition of which is clearly different from comparable subjects by Rubens and Anthony van Dyck.[2]

His Hercules between Vice and Virtue (Uffizi Gallery) shows the influence from both Rubens (particularly Rubens' style between 1610-1620) and Anthony van Dyck.

For Governor Leopold Wilhelm, van den Hoecke designed the pattern boards for a series of 12 wall tapestries on the motif of vanitas (c. 1650): Day and Night, six pictures of The Months, the Four Seasons, the Four Elements and the Triumph of Time. Several artists worked on the series. Ten preparatory oil sketches that van den Hoecke made for the series have survived (four in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), as have eight tapestries based on the designs for Day and Night and The Months.[2]

Many examples of his work found their way to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna when the Archduke's collection was moved there.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Matthias Depoorter, Jan van den Hoecke at Barok in Vlaanderen
  2. ^ a b c d Günther Heinz. "Hoecke, Jan van den." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 17 Jul. 2014
  3. ^ Jan van Hoek biography in: Arnold Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, 1718 (Dutch)
  4. ^ Kimbell Art Museum, Triumph of David, image of work and background information
  5. ^ Virtue Overcoming Avarice at wikicommons
  6. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Hoecken, van den". New International Encyclopedia. 1905. 

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