Painter and draftsman Jan Lievens (1607-1674) was born in Leiden, The Netherlands. At the young age of twelve, Lievens embarked on his own illustrious career.
The first exhibit took place in fall of 2008 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the second exhibit will continue in Milwaukee until the end of April, 2009, and the other take place in the Rembrandthius in Amsterdam from May to August, 2009. The memorable exhibition, “Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered” is the first set of exhibitions to honor this artist since his death in 1669, and we are fortunate to have two of these exhibits occurring in the U.S.
Museums and private collections from England, Europe, and America have loaned his work to this exhibition, and this is an excellent opportunity to reconsider the value and importance of Lievens's artwork.
On the advertisement for the exhibition, a powerful point is made: “Out of Rembrandt’s Shadow.” This point alone may have been responsible to attract the thousands of art lovers that have attended these shows, many of them not familiar with Jan Lievens’s work beforehand.
Jan Lievens’s artwork continued to be in Rembrandt’s mighty shadow for several centuries, up until the middle of nineteenth century when his work rediscovered for the benefit of art lovers.
They were clearly close and influenced one another's styles and competed in the painting of similar themes. The art style of the two was so similar that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish their work. For this reason, some of Lievens’s work was actually attributed to Rembrandt.
In their final years, Rembrandt and Lievens both happened to live along an Amsterdam canal called the Rozengracht. Lievens outlived Rembrandt for five years. Despite their respective success and fame, both artists died in poverty because of the dire mismanagement of their finances.
It is not too late for Chicagoans to catch Jan Lievens’s exhibition in Milwaukee, which ends on April 26, 2009. The exhibition will then begin in May, 2009, in Rembrandthius in Amsterdam and will run through August, 2009, at that location. It is well worth the drive to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Jan Lievens’s last U.S. exhibit to see his amazing original paintings that have been brought “out of Rembrandt’s shadow” and into a glory all their own.