AKEN, Joseph van
(b. ca. 1699, Antwerpen, d. 1749, London)


Joseph van Aken (also Vanaken or Haeken), Flemish painter, active in England. In Antwerp he began painting genre scenes in the Flemish tradition. He arrived in London with his family c. 1720 and continued to produce genre paintings as well as conversation pieces. His paintings reveal his Flemish training, although the figures are wooden and stilted and the work devoid of moralizing intent. They also show his adaptation of this genre tradition to contemporary London scenes, and the several versions of these works attest to their popularity.

Van Aken also painted portraits. His conversation pieces betray a French influence in their lively brushwork and informal composition. From about 1735 onwards he specialised in painting the drapery for famous and fashionable London portraitists, though occasionally he still produced ravishing conversation pieces of country scenes of a sporting nature.