LOO, Jacob van
(b. 1614, Sluis, d. 1670, Paris)


Painter, member of a French family of artists of Dutch origin. They were the descendants of the genre painter Jan van Loo (b Sluis, nr Bruges, 1585). His son Jacob van Loo was a history and genre painter working in Amsterdam in the Dutch tradition before moving to Paris, where he distinguished himself as a portrait painter.

Jacob first trained with his father, Jan van Loo, and seems to have been influenced in his youth by Thomas de Keyser and Jacob Backer. We know that Van Loo, the painter from Sluis in Zeeland, was living in Amsterdam in 1642, when his name was mentioned in connection with the transfer of a bond. A year later, he was said to be married to Anna Lengele, the sister of a painter, Martinus Lengele, whom he authorised to convey a quarter share in a house to a goldsmith in The Hague. Van Loo and his wife drew up a will in 1645, at which time his mother was evidently still living in Sluis. A year later, he received an inheritance from a woman who had lived in Ghent.

By this time, Van Loo had established a reputation in Amsterdam. In 1652, Van Loo paid dues to be granted burghership of Amsterdam, where he had emerged as a leading painter. In 1654, the poet Jan Vos expressed his admiration for Van Loo's work, ranking him with artists like Rembrandt, Govaert Flinck and Ferdinand Bol. Van Loo's name also appears on the list of painters Constantijn Huygens selected as potential candidates for the decoration of Huis ten Bosch (Van Loo and Backer were the only two from Amsterdam), but he did not receive a commission. Van Loo was the teacher of Eglon van der Neer, according to Houbraken, who mentions that he 'excelled at painting nudes, and female nudes in particular'.

On 7 August 1660, Jacob van Loo drew up a will naming six children as his heirs. At the time, he was living on the Rozengracht in Amsterdam and was evidently in poor health.

There is also a series of documents which reveal fragments of an extraordinary incident involving a notoriously violent wine merchant called Hendrik Breda. On the day in question, Breda was in the garden of a tavern, the 'Hoff van Vrieslandt' outside St Anthony's Gate, 'where he was known to one and all for his strength. He stopped at nothing to provoke a fight with the witness, finally dragging him off the bench and assaulting him on the grass'. Breda's adversary was the bailiff Laurens Pelgrom. On a subsequent occasion Breda is alleged to have used abusive and threatening language to Pelgrom, saying: 'You vile cur! I'd teach you a lesson, if my wife were not here in the cellar'. From the judicial archive of 31 October 1660, it transpires that Jacob van Loo stabbed Breda, inflicting 'a knife wound in the navel, which caused Breda's death a short time later. The foresaid Jacob van Loo was summonsed twice by my Lord the Sheriff but failed to appear'. As a result, Van Loo was banished for life from the lands of Holland and West Friesland on pain of execution by the sword.

Van Loo fled to Paris and became a member of the Academy in 1663. The work he submitted to be judged for admission to this august institution was a portrait of the painter Michel Corneille (1601-1664), which is now at the Louvre. Jacob van Loo died in Paris on 26 November 1670. His son Abraham Louis van Loo fathered a generation of leading French painters, one being Carle Van Loo.

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