Jan Thomas van Yperen was born in Ypres in 1617. Little is known about his training. Although Cornelis de Bie wrote in his Gulden Cabinet der Edel Vry Schilderconst (1662) that van Yperen was a pupil of Rubens, this was never conclusively proven. It is now thought that van Yperen was a collaborator in Rubens’ studio in the late 1630’s. He became an independent member of the Antwerp guild of St Luke in 1639/40 and acquired Antwerp citizenship two years later. He got married in 1642 to Maria Cnobbaert, daughter of an Antwerp book dealer; in 1652, their third child was baptised in the local St James’ church, indicating that the family was still living in Antwerp at the time.
At some point in the 1650’s, the van Yperen family moved to Vienna, where Jan Thomas received commissions from Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, an important collector and patron of the arts at the time, as well as from the imperial court under the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. He would remain in Vienna until his death, probably in 1678. Van Yperen mostly painted history paintings and landscapes with mythological figures, such as the present work. In addition, he is also known to have produced many portraits of members of royal and aristocratic families in the Habsburg territories.
Although archival records do not record unambiguously whether Van Yperen worked in Rubens’ workshop before of rather after the latter’s death, stylistic evidence clearly points to his involvement in the workshop in the late 1630’s. Stylistically, van Yperen was thus clearly influenced by Rubens, although his work can be readily recognised by his distinct treatment of tree roots and foliage, for instance. The present loosely painted work (some parts wet-in-wet) may be considered a very fine example of van Yperen’s work and style. Another version of it, of almost exactly the same dimensions, is currently kept in the Louvre (inv. no. M.I. 973).
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