Abraham Begeyn 1637-1697
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Abraham Begeyn 1637-1697

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A "Forest Floor" still life of plants and flowers by a wall with an urn; beyond are elegant figures outside a classical mansion


Oil painting on canvas 41 x 36 cm., / 16 x 14 inches in a carved and giltwood “Lutma” style frame


Provenance: Collection of T W C Moore esq., by whom given to the New York Historical Society in 1882, and by whom sold 1995


The attribution has been confirmed by Dr Fred Meier of the Rijksbureau voor Kunst Documentatie.


Begeyn was born in Leiden in about 1637, and received his training in that City. His paintings therefore reflect the highly finished and sophisticated technique which is typical of Leiden painters. He was also much influenced by the Italianate painters Jan Asselyn and Nicholaes Berchem. His biography in brief:

1655 (25th April) admitted to the Guild of St. Luke (i.e. artists) in Leiden, where he remained a member until 1667.
1659 Went to Italy, where he visited Naples and Rome.
1672 Visited Amsterdam where he worked.
1681 Working in the Hague.
1683 Admitted to the brotherhood of painters in the Hague.
1688 Paid 500 Reichstaler to move as painter to Berlin, and appointed Artist to the Elector of Brandenburg. Produced a series of designs for tapestries, and produced a series of decorative schemes for Royal Palaces.
1696 Travelled widely in Germany (Minden, Bielefeld, Cleve, Wessel etc.) producing a series of topographical engravings of the highest quality for the Elector of Brandenburg.
1697 Died in Berlin 11 June 1697

He is a versatile painter, and produced numerous landscapes, which call to mind Jan Baptist Weenix and Abraham Storck. He is particularly fond of introducing elements of wild still-life into the foreground of his paintings, in contrast to the formal architecture of the backgrounds, which have arches, pillars and classical formality. Occasionally, he devotes almost all of his subject to the "Forest Floor" in a manner reminiscent of Otto Marseus van Schrieck, and the architecture is reduced to a small incidental part of the background. These are by far the most atmospheric and evocative works which he produced, and match a fine-ness of technique with a vividness of imagination. His colours here are naturally subdued, but lit with brilliant shafts of evening light.

His paintings are in many museums, particularly in England and Germany.