Who is Jan den Uyl?

Jan Jansz. den Uyl (Utrecht (?), 1595/96 – 24 November 1639) was a painter of the Dutch Golden Age. He utterly much specialized in the form of nevertheless life known as the breakfast piece, or, in the elaborate style of painters subsequently den Uyl, banquet pieces (banketjestukken). He also painted landscapes and animal paintings.

Den Uyl was with ease known in his time, and Peter Paul Rubens owned three of his paintings. Although den Uyl is nowadays comparatively unknown, one of his paintings, in the stock of Gerald Guterman, has been called the “most beautifully absolute Dutch monochrome still-life in existence”.

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The Dutch word uyl means “owl”, and den Uyl always included the signature motif of an owl in his paintings, often beyond once in a single picture. Sometimes the motif is obvious and sometimes it is more covert. For example, in his Breakfast Still Life afterward Glass and Metalwork (1637–39), in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, an owl is incorporated fairly obviously as the decorative finial upon a large flagon, but the reflections in the pewter plates are as a consequence reminiscent of the point of view of an owl.

He trained Jan Jansz. Treck, whose sister he married in 1619.

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