Jan van den Hecke I was born in Quaremonde – near Oudenaarde – in 1620. He moved to Antwerp at an early age, where he worked as an apprentice in the workshop of the little-known painter Abraham Hack (no paintings by him are known) for two years. In 1642 he became a member of the guild of St Luke. After spending some time in Italy and Brussels in the 1650’s, van den Hecke settled definitively in Antwerp. He married and fathered at least three children; his son, Jan van den Hecke II, also became a successful still life painter. Jan van den Hecke died in Antwerp in 1684.
Although he painted a couple of Roman cityscapes, some cavalry battles and several landscapes in an Italianate style, van den Hecke mostly specialized in still life paintings. Among these are a number of pronkstillevens and a number of still lifes with game in the style of Jan Fyt; it were his flower pieces, however, that were most sought after. Several of them found their way into the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, whose art collection went on to form the nucleus of the picture collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna) – where van den Hecke’s Flowers in a vase with the siege of Gravelingen still hangs today.
The present painting, which depicts a small bouquet of roses and large tulips in a glass vase, is a characteristic work by the artist, which he must have painted around 1660. The authenticity of the painting and the authorship of Jan van den Hecke have been confirmed by Dr. Sam Segal, who provided a certificate.
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