Jan van Goyen was a prolific painter and draughtsman whose career spanned more than thirty-five years. During his early life he was influenced by Esaias van de Velde, the first Dutch painter to abandon the mannerisms of the Flemish style in favour of more naturalistic landscape views. He then began to paint in the new Haarlem landscape idiom, distinguished by its atmospheric quality and monochromatic palette, richly varied in tone. Van Goyen, Pieter de Molijn and Salomon van Ruysdael were the principal exponents of this style.
Van Goyen was born in Leiden in 1596 and from 1606 was the pupil successively of the Leiden painters Coenraet van Schilperoort, Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburgh, Jan Arentsz. de Man and the glass-painter Cornelis Cornelisz. Clock. He then studied for two years with Willem Gerritsz. at Hoorn. Van Goyen went back to Leiden and worked on his own; at the age of about nineteen he travelled in France for a year and from 1617-18 he was the pupil of Esaias van de Velde in Haarlem. Van de Velde strongly influenced the style of van Goyen’s early paintings from 1620 to 1626.
Van Goyen went to The Hague in 1632, where he acquired citizenship in 1634. During that same year he worked in Haarlem, painting in the house of Isaac van Ruysdael, the brother of Salomon. He was a hoofdman of The Hague Guild in 1638 and 1640, and in 1651 he painted for the Burgomasters’ Room in The Hague Town Hall a panoramic view of the town, for which he received 650 guilders. Despite his astounding rate of production, van Goyen was constantly beset with financial difficulties; he incurred great losses in the ‘tulipmania’ of 1636-7 and died insolvent.
The work of Jan van Goyen is represented in the National Gallery, London, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; the Louvre, Paris; the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.