Joseph Van Aken

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Joseph van Aken (c.1699 – 4 July 1749 London)[1] was a Flemish artist, a portrait, genre and drapery painter who spent most of his career in England. He was noted for his skill in painting fabrics, and was employed as a costume painter by many leading artists.


Joseph van Aken, Saying Grace, c. 1720

He arrived in London from Antwerp in around 1720, accompanied by his brother Alexander (1701–57), and possibly also by an older brother called Arnold (d.1735/6).[1] He initially painted genre scenes and conversation pieces, before becoming a specialist drapery painter in the mid-1730s.[2]His works as an independent artist include a view of Covent Garden Market, of which he made at least three versions.[3] Van Aken painted drapery for most of the leading artists in London, particularly Thomas Hudson and Allan Ramsay.[1] Horace Walpole commented

As in England almost everybody's picture is painted, so almost every painter's work is painted by Vanaken[4]

He lived in Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, where he died in 1749. According to Vertue he was about fifty years old at the time of his death, and had spent more than 30 years in England.[1]


van Aken has paintings in public collections including seventeen in the United Kingdom.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "Artist biography JOSEPH VAN AKEN (also Vanhaecken) ? 1699–1749". Tate Gallery. Retrieved 5 May 2013.  quoting Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988.
  2. ^ Manners and Morals, p.247
  3. ^ Manners and Morals, p.67
  4. ^ Walpole, Horatio (1798). "Joseph Vanaken". The Works of Horatio Walpole, Earl of Orford. 3. London: GG. and J. Robinson and J. Edwards. p. 449. 
  5. ^ 17 Painting(s) by or after Joseph Van Aken at the Art UK site


  • Manners and Morals: Hogarth and British Painting1700–1760 (Exhibition catalogue). London: Tate Gallery. 1987.