(b. ca. 1610, Dieppe, d. 1652, Amsterdam)


Portrait of Jan Asselyn by Frans Hals (1650s)

Dutch Italianate landscape painter (also spelled Asselijn). According to the Amsterdam burgher book of 1652, Asselyn came from 'Diepen', which can be interpreted as either the village Diemen, near Amsterdam or the French town of Dieppe in northern France.

He was probably a pupil of Esaias van de Velde but his style was formed on the Arcadian landscapes of Claude, and on the Roman Campagna: hence his work resembles that of Berchem, Both and Dujardin. He spent about ten years in Italy c.1634-44. He specialized in real and imaginary scenes of the Roman Campagna, his most famous painting, however, is not a landscape, but The Threatened Swan (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), an unusual work - showing a bird defending its nest against a dog - that is said to be an allegory of Dutch nationalism. Rembrandt, who was Asselyn's friend etched his portrait. Because of a crippled hand he was nicknamed 'Crabbetje' (Little Crab)