Jan van der Heyden

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For the Belgian film director, see Jan Vanderheyden.
Jan van der Heiden
Januš Radzivił. Януш Радзівіл (J. Heyden, 1609).jpg
Born (1637-03-05)March 5, 1637
Died September 12, 1712(1712-09-12) (aged 75)
Occupation Artist, glass grinder
Spouse(s) Sarah Terhiel
Children Jan, Samuel, Sarah
Parent(s) Jan Goriszoon, Neeltje Jans Munster
This is a Dutch name; the family name is van der Heyden, not Heyden.

Jan van der Heyden (March 5, 1637, Gorinchem – September 12, 1712, Amsterdam) was a Dutch Baroque-era painter, draughtsman, printmaker, a mennonite and inventor who significantly contributed to contemporary firefighting. He improved the fire hose in 1672, with his brother Nicolaes, who was a hydraulic engineer.[1] He modified the manual fire engines, reorganised the volunteer fire brigade (1685) and wrote and illustrated the first firefighting manual (Brandspuiten-boek). A comprehensive street lighting scheme for Amsterdam, which lasted from 1669 until 1840, designed and implemented by Van der Heyden, was adopted as a model by many other towns and abroad.


The church in Veere
Jan van der Heyden - Room Corner with Curiosities

Van der Heyden grew up in Gorcum, where he learned drawing from a glass painter.[2] but the family moved to Amsterdam around 1650. They lived on Dam Square. As a young man he witnessed the fire in the old townhall which made a deep impression on him. He later would describe or draw 80 fires in almost any neighborhood of Amsterdam. When he married in 1661, he lived on the most fashionable canal in Amsterdam, Herengracht. In 1668 Cosimo II de' Medici bought one of his paintings, a view of the townhall with a manipulated perspective. Van der Heyden often painted country estates, like Goudestein, owned by Joan Huydecoper II. Though he was exceptionally good at perspective, he was not good in drawing figures or details, and used for his paintings a metal plate for bricks, and a sponge or moss for the leaves. Johannes Lingelbach, Adriaen van de Velde and Eglon van der Neer assisted him by drawing the figures on his paintings. Jan van der Heyden also introduced the lamp post and in 1672 improved the design of the fire engine.

Van der Heyden was a contemporary of the landscape painters Hobbema and Jacob van Ruisdael, with the advantage, which they lacked, of a certain professional versatility; for, whilst they painted admirable pictures and starved, he varied the practice of art with the study of mechanics. Van der Heyden, who was perfect as an architectural draughtsman insofar as he painted the outside of buildings and thoroughly mastered linear perspective, seldom turned his hand to the delineation of anything but brick houses and churches in streets and squares. Until 1672 he painted in partnership with Adriaen van de Velde, who populated his architectural scenes with figures and landscape effects.[2] After Adriaen's death, he accepted the government appointment and his productivity was lower.[2] His most important works were painted in the years 1660-1670, most notably views of the Amsterdam town hall, the Amsterdam exchange, the London exchange, and views of Cologne.[2] He died in wealth as the superintendent of the lighting and director of the (voluntary) firemen's guild at Amsterdam.

He was a travelled man, had seen The Hague, Ghent and Brussels, and had ascended the Rhine past Xanten to Cologne, where he copied over and over again the tower and crane of the great cathedral. But he cared nothing for hill or vale, or stream or wood. He could reproduce the rows of bricks in a square of Dutch houses sparkling in the sun, or stunted trees and lines of dwellings varied by steeples, all in light or thrown into passing shadow by moving cloud.

Museums with van der Heyden's works[edit]

Fire hose apparatus built in 1672 and designed by Jan van der Heyden in Town hall, De Rijp


The Bruce Museum of Arts and Science in Greenwich, Connecticut, presented "Jan van der Heyden (1637–1712)", an exhibition of works by the artist, from September 16, 2006, through January 10, 2007. The exhibit consistsed of 37 of the artist’s cityscape paintings and 16 drawings with supplemental material on Van der Heyden’s publication on firefighting. The exhibition was the first monographic exhibition of van der Heyden’s art to be mounted in 70 years and the first shown ever in the United States, according to the museum. The exhibition had its only showing in the United States at the Bruce Museum, after which it traveled (in slightly abridged form) to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.[3]


  1. ^ The fire hose pump was invented by Johann Hautsch, "Jan van der Heiden". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d (Dutch) Joan vander Heyden biography in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718) by Arnold Houbraken, courtesy of the Digital library for Dutch literature
  3. ^ [1] Bruce Museum Web site, Jan van der Heyden exhibit Web pages, accessed September 9, 2006
  • Van der Heyden, Fire Engines with Water Hoses and the Method of Fighting Fires by Lettie Stibbe Multhauf, 102 illustrated pages (Science History Publications/USA: 1996)
  • Jan van der Heyden (1637–1712) (exhibit catalogue) by Peter C. Sutton, et al., 50 illustrated pages, including 130 paintings, drawings and figures (Yale University Press: 2006). The book is the first publication on the artist in the English language, according to the Bruce Museum, where Sutton is director.
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]