Jan Wildens

Jan Wildens, ‘Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet, Antwerpen’Jan Wildens is an Antwerp painter and draftsman, who in the first place enjoys renown as an accomplished landscape painter. He is a student of Pieter van der Hulst I (1565/70-1627/28), of whom no work survives.

In the period preceding Wildens' Italian journey (before 1614), on a compositional level the painter is influenced by a variety of Masters such as Gillis van Coninxloo III (1544-1606), Jan Brueghel I (1568-1627), Joos de Momper II (1564-1635) and Adriaen van Stalbemt (1580-1662).

Once in Italy, Wildens is inspired by the Realism and the eye for detail in the art of Paul Bril (1553/54-1626). During his whole career he will remain true to his earliest influences. The aspect of the dynamic High Baroque of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) is something he, however, never adapts. Symmetrically constructed compositions, a soft palette and a serene character are characteristics of Wildens' balanced art. A compelling example of his idyllic landscapes with monumentally large trees is Wildens' painting Landscape with Dancing Shepherds (KMSKA, Antwerp).

After 1640, Wildens will use the rather sketchy method and the vibrating, atmospheric light that Rubens adopts in his own later landscapes. He also enhances the dramatic element.
The respect of his contemporaries for Wildens' craft is seen by the many cases of collaboration. Wildens provides landscape backgrounds in the works of artists such as Abraham Janssens (ca. 1575-1632), Rubens, Frans Snijders (1579-1657), Gerard Seghers (1591-1651), Jacob Jordaens I (1593-1678), Paul de Vos (1595-1678), Theodoor Rombouts (1597-1637), Cornelis Schut (1597-1655) and Jan Boeckhorst (ca. 1604-1668).

1585-86

Jan Wildens is born in Antwerp.

1596

Wildens is registered as a student of Pieter van der (I) Hulst.

1604

The artist becomes Free Master in the Saint Luke Guild in Antwerp.

22 May 1613

In his will and testament, Wildens mentions that at that moment he is 27 years old.

After 1614

Wildens stays on the Italian peninsula.

Circa 1615-1616

A series of 12 landscapes that cover the 12 months appears in this period. The works were also published in print form. (Palazzo Bianco, Genoa)

1616-1618

The artist is back in Antwerp. Wildens' hand is identified in the pattern boards for Rubens' tapestry series on Decius Mus. He is responsible for the landscapes in the background. Wildens lends a hand with various paintings of Rubens: Diana and her Nymphs prepare for the hunt (Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland), Simon and Iphigenia (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), The Rape of the daughters of Leucippus (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), Samson and the Lion (Private collection, Madrid).

14 March 1617

Sir Dudley Carlton writes to John Cage that he regrets that for Cage's visit to Antwerp in 1616 that he is not able to present him an exceptional landscape painter. It is taken that Carlton means Jan Wildens here.

12 November 1619

Marie Stappaert and Jan Wildens marry in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp. Rubens is a witness of the wedding. The couple has 2 children who both become painters: Jan Baptist (1620-1637) and Jeremias (1621-1653), who in 1646-47 becomes a Free Master in the Saint Luke Guild.

1624

Wildens paints Winter Landscape with a Hunter (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden).
The artist opens a gallery that enjoys success and that is later taken over by Jeremias Wildens.

1631

Landscape with Dancing Shepherds is completed by the artist (KMSKA, Antwerp).

1640

Peter Paul Rubens dies in Antwerp. Jan Wildens functions as testamentary executor.

16 October 1653

Jan Wildens dies in Antwerp.

Matthias Depoorter