HEYDEN, Jan van der
(b. 1637, Gorinchem, d. 1712, Amsterdam)
Approach to the Town of Veerec. 1665
Oil on panel, 46 x 56 cm
Royal Collection, London
Jan van der Heyden, who specialized in the painting of townscapes, was born in Gorinchem but moved as a child to Amsterdam. He is said to have been trained by a glass-painter, an apprenticeship which taught him to paint with the extraordinary degree of precision evident in his topographical views. He lived and worked in Amsterdam throughout his life but travelled widely in Holland, Flanders and the Rhineland. He painted many of the towns he visited, producing more that one hundred views of identified places in Holland, as well as of Brussels and Cologne. From the end of the 1660s he was also involved in projects to improve street-lighting and fire-fighting in his native town and provided the illustrations for books on these subjects. In addition to town views, he painted a few landscapes and still lifes.
In the seventeenth-century Veere, a small town in the province of Zeeland, on the strait between Walcheren and Noord Beveland, was an important port which carried on an extensive trade with Scotland. It is seen here from the south-west with the tower of the Great Church prominent on the left: the church was extensively damaged by fire in 1686. Traditionally the figures have been attributed to Adriaen van de Velde but in fact are probably by van der Heyden himself. The artist painted a number of views of the town of Veere seen from slightly different points of view but none are dated and there is no record of when van der Heyden visited the town. There is relatively little development in van der Heyden's meticulous and delicate style and his paintings are therefore difficult to date with any precision, but this view was probably painted around 1665.