(b. ca. 1610, Gorcum, d. 1676, Heusden)


Dutch painter. He painted for the most part genre scenes, particularly Merry Companies, in the manner of Anthonie Palamedesz and Jan Miense Molenaer. High and low genre conversation pieces depicting groups of elegant figures, soldiers, or peasants enjoying themselves, were very popular during the 17th century. Other artists who explored this theme included Pieter Codde, Hendrik Pot and Simon Kick.

Jan Olis was born around 1610 in the town of Gorcum (now Gorinchem) in the province of Holland. It is believed that he was related to the painter Jacob Olis who is documented as residing in Gorcum in 1608 or 1609 and was perhaps his father and first teacher. Any further information about Jan Olis's training is unknown, although there were several notable painters living in the rather small town of Gorcum. We know that Olis was in Rome in 1631.

In 1632 Olis became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke in Dordrecht where there would have been many more possibilities for work than existed in Gorcum. In February 1637 he married Catharina van der Beken, the widow of the wine merchant Willem Emonts. Catharina continued Emonts's business, now officially registered under the name of Jan Olis, and it is for this reason that the artist at times was referred to as a wine merchant. He is mentioned as having three pupils in 1638 and 1641. In 1656 Olis moved to the town of Heusden where he became an alderman in the city council. In 1657 he became one of the burgomasters. In 1670 Olis is referred to as a conveymeester, a collector of tolls. During these years he painted some remarkably sumptuous flower pieces. He died in Heusden on June 6, 1676.

Although not that well known, Olis's artistic legacy is quite varied and the quality of his paintings are often of high level. He painted works of genre that are mainly conversation pieces and guardroom scenes. These are small sized figure paintings in the tradition of Anthonie Palamedes and Pieter Codde. Olis belongs to the same group of painters as Hendrick Pot and Simon Kick. Fine examples of his work in this tradition can be found in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Mauritshuis, The Hague and the National Gallery, London.