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JAN WYCK (1645-1702)
  • JAN WYCK (1645-1702)


    Pen & ink, brush with wash, pencil & red chalk

    13.8 x 18 cm



    Private Collection, France





    [Wyck] ‘has been called the father of English sporting painting because he produced so many hunting scenes, and he was the author of some of the earliest English horse-portraits in which the horse, and no human being, was the chief focus of each paintings.’ [1] Alongside such views, Wyck could count battle scenes, topographical views, and both classical and (loosely) English capricci among his repertoire. He was hugely sought-after by the British aristocracy of his day, and found time to produce a considerable number of illustrations for at least two popular publications on hunting and sports.


    Fewer than a handful of securely attributed drawings by Wyck have come to auction in the past several decades, making the present work an exciting discovery and rare opportunity to acquire a drawing of a subject inextricably connected with his work.



    Wyck was born in Haarlem, the son of Thomas Wijck (c.1616-1677), a highly respected artist in his own right. Thomas had been a pupil of Peter van Laer and, like his teacher, became a member of the Dutch fraternity of artists in Rome who called themselves the Bamboccianti. Thomas is recorded as having come to England in c.1663-1664, with a drawing of a View of the Waterhouse and Old St Paul’s (the former of these two buildings was demolished in 1665); and further English subjects by Thomas date from shortly after this.


    Jan was born in Haarlem in around 1645, is recorded in Utrecht in 1664, and is thought to have spent the years 1658-1664 in the Dutch city. It is not known precisely when Jan emigrated to England; however, in 1674, Jan paid both his and his father’s membership fees to the Painter-Stainers Company in the City of London. Although his father died just three years later, Jan remained in England, and by 1680 was elected to the ‘Committee of Acting Painters’ of the Company, by which time he had cemented his reputation in his new home. 


    Among his many titled clients, Wyck enjoyed the patronage of the Dukes of Ormond and Monmouth from early on in his time in England, which played an important part in raising his reputation until he became, at the height of his career, one of the foremost artists in England (and undoubtedly its chief landscape painter at the time). He accompanied his fellow Dutchman Dirk Maas to Ireland to paint the campaigns of William III, apparently the great success: Wyck would go on to paint at least half a dozen oils of the Battle of the Boyne, and numerous further paintings of the encampments and the English soldiers before battle. The King himself was also impressed with Wyck's talent, and commissioned a number of equestrian portraits, as well as to paint further scenes from his campaigns in the low countries. 



    Wyck’s extant drawings are considerably rarer and more scarce than his paintings, with few in collections outside Britain: there are groups of drawings in both the British Museum and the National Galleries of Scotland; two drawings of cavalry battles in the Witt collection at the Courtauld Institute; and the Yale Centre for British Art hold a number of both hunting and military drawings by the artist. Paintings by Wyck can be found in various homes and institutions across England, including the Royal Collection, the Tate Gallery, Holker Hall and the National Maritime Museum.


    Wyck made a number of preparatory drawings for his engraved illustrations, particularly Richard Blome’s folio, The Gentleman’s Recreation, which contained numerous depictions of country pursuits and hunting. Katherine Gibson described these illustrations as having ‘much the same qualities as his paintings, with lively little men and finely drawn animals in the foregound, and smaller figures or incidents leading the eye back towards a house, castle or natural feature in the distance’. [2]



    • Notes

      [1] K. Gibson, 'Jan Wyck c1645-1700: A painter with 'a grate deal of fire'', in The British Art Journal, vol. 2, no. 1 (Autumn, 2000), p.3

      [2] ibid., p.11

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