top of page

Jan Lievens (Leiden 1607-1674 Amsterdam)

Bust of a young man, facing right

etching, countermark LB
signed ‘IL invens’ and with the publisher’s address ‘Franciscus van den Wijngaerde ex’ (in the plate)
14.9 x 12.3 cm
Bartsch 26; Hollstein 44; Schnackenburg 182[1] , fourth and final state, trimmed to or just inside the platemark, a good, but partly worn (in the sitter’s hat, hair and coat) impression

with P. & D. Colnaghi, London (with their code C37725).
with Th. Laurentius, Zaltbommel.
Private Collection, The Netherlands.

The artistic talents of the child prodigy Jan Lievens were already hailed by collectors and connoisseurs during his teenage years. Driven by great ambition, Lievens had already ascended to stardom by the tender age of 12 and later found himself in service of both Dutch and English princely patrons. His ambitions also led to one of the most dynamic and exciting artistic rivalries of the Dutch Golden Age – the rivalry between Lievens and that other great 17th century master, Rembrandt.

Born just a year apart, Lievens and Rembrandt spurred each other to the very boundaries of their artistic capibilities. In both paintings and prints, they sought to emulate and surpass one another, resulting in two of the most innovative and varied œuvres of Dutch 17th century art.

However, one of the most fascinating artistic rivalries, unfolded no on grand painted canvases, but rather in intimate etched studies of heads, known as tronies. The rivalry culminated with the four oriental heads that Lievens produced around 1631/1632s, prompting Rembrandt to make copies after them, three of which were inscribed ‘geretuckeerd’ (meaning adapted and improved), just to make his intentions even clearer. While one could argue that Rembrandt indeed improved these compositions, the present etching brilliantly showcases Lievens’ artistic prowess in printmaking. Lievens brilliantly captured the boy’s facial features as well as the play of light and shade on his face, hat and garment.

[1] B. Schnackenburg, 'Jan Lievens. Friend and Rival of the Young Rembrandt, with a Catalogue Raisonné of his early Leiden work. 1623-1632', Petersberg, 2016.

bottom of page