Jan Asselijn

c. 1610 - 1652

An Italianate Landscape with Peasants feeding their Dogs


Oil on Canvas




50.8(h) x 43.2(w) cms


Jan Asselijn was born in Dieppe into a French Huguenot family. He received his early training in the studio of Jan Martszen de Jonge, whose influence can clearly be seen in Asselijn's earlier battle scenes painted before 1630. The major impact on his painting and drawing was that of Pieter van Laer, the leading light of the Bambocciante, and Jan and Andries Both. His extensive travels in Italy from 1635 to 1644, particularly around Rome, and his membership of the Bentvueghels deeply affected his painting. As a result the large number of drawings he completed here depict life in the Roman campagna as well as fill his paintings with the renowned magical Italian golden light. His small stature and withered hand gained him the nickname of 'petit Jean Hollandais' and 'Krabbetje' (little claw) amongst his fellow Bentvueghels. This may seem cruel but only illustrates the high regard his fellow painters held him in.

Asselijn returned to Holland via France and, according to Houbraken, married Antonette Huwaart from Lyon in 1645. He was briefly in Paris in 1646 working with his brother-in-law Nicolaes de Helt Stockade and Herman van Swanevelt in the Hôtel Lambert. He then settled in Amsterdam where he remained for the rest of his life. He became friends with Rembrandt who made an engraving of him in 1647. His masterpiece 'The Threatened Swan' (Rijksmuseum SK-A-4) is one the most renowned images of Dutch seventeenth century painting. He remains one of the most important Italianate painters and also one of the most influential on his fellow artists.

One of Asselijn's talents was his ability to imbue his Italianate landscapes with the character of a genre painting. In the present painting we see a group of men and a boy watch and clap as two dogs squabble over a scrap of meat. The two men on the right are dressed more as Dutchmen than Italian peasants and they may be travellers on the road. The palette is certainly more Italian with bright azure, Claudian yellows and rusty earth to describe the Roman Campagna.


Ex Collection, Professor Michael Jaffé;
By descent to the previous owner