Who is Adriaen van Diest?

By Gwylym Owen

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Adriaen van Diest (1655–1704) was a Dutch painter, who worked in England.

He was born at the Hague in 1655, the son of Jeronymus van Diest, a painter of sea-pieces, by whom he was instructed in the art. When he was seventeen years out of date he moved to London, where he was employed by Granville, Earl of Bath, for whom he painted several views and ruins in the west of England. He next painted portraits, but did not meet when much encouragement, although his pictures, particularly his landscapes, possess considerable merit; as a proof of which Horace Walpole states that there were seven pictures by Van Diest in Sir Peter Lely’s collection. He etched several landscapes from his own designs, in a slight, masterly style. Van Diest died in London in 1704.

Unfortunately for his reputation, he is generally known by his worst pictures, which are frequently found in dated houses, on wainscots, or beyond doors, and are executed in a quick manner, with much mountainous background. His improved pictures have misused their name.

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