Huysmans, Jacob (DNB00)

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HUYSMANS, JACOB, often called Houseman (1636?–1696), portrait-painter, born probably about 1636, was a native of Antwerp. Horace Walpole states, in his 'Anecdotes of Painting,' that Huysmans was born in 1656, and that he studied under Gillis Backereel, but both these statements are disproved by the registers of the guild of St. Luke, which contain the entry of his apprenticeship to Frans Wouters in 1649-50. He came to England soon after 1660, and appears to have met with much encouragement, although Sir Peter Lely was then at the zenith of his fame. Pepys records in his 'Diary,' 26 Aug. 1664, that he went 'to see some pictures at one Huysman's, a picture-drawer, a Dutchman, which is said to exceed Lilly; and indeed there is both of the Queenes and Maids of Honour, particularly Mrs. Stewart's, in a buff doublet like a soldier, as good pictures, I think, as ever I saw. The Queene is drawn in one like a shepherdess, in the other like St. Katherine, most like and most admirably.' The portrait of Queen Catharine as a shepherdess a full length seated figure, surrounded by cupids and a lamb is now at Buckingham Palace. That of the queen as St. Catharine, considered by the painter to be his best work, is now at Gorhambury, Hertfordshire, the seat of the Earl of Verulam. It is a full-length portrait, and has been engraved in line by William Sherwin, and published in mezzotint by R. Tompson. A three-quarters length replica of it is in the possession of Lord Clifford at Ugbrooke Park, Devonshire. Another portrait of the queen is in Painter-Stainers' Hall. Huysmans called himself the queen's painter, and often introduced her portrait as a Madonna or Venus into his pictures. He also painted the altar-piece for the queen's chapel at St. James's. The portrait of Frances Stuart, duchess of Richmond, mentioned by Pepys, is at Kensington Palace, and a full length of her, as Pallas, is in the possession of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. The portrait of Lady Belasyse, traditionally known as Lady Byron, which is at Hampton Court, has long been ascribed to Huysmans, but it is now, on the authority of an old manuscript catalogue at Windsor, assigned to Sir Peter Lely. It was engraved by T.Wright for Mrs. Jameson's 'Beauties of the Court of Charles the Second,' 1833.

There is in the National Gallery an excellent portrait of Izaak Walton by Huysmans, which has been engraved by Philip Audinet, and also by William Humphrys for Sir Harris Nicolas's edition of the 'Complete Angler,' 1836. The National Portrait Gallery has portraits by him of Queen Catharine of Braganza and of Colonel Legge (‘Honest Will Legge'). At Holkham Hall, Norfolk, the seat of the Earl of Leicester, is a picture of the children of Mr. Coke, which has been reproduced in mezzotint by Paul van Somer and W. Vincent. Among other portraits engraved after him are those of Alexander Browne, painter and engraver, by Arnold de Jode, prefixed to his 'Ars Pictoria,' 1675, and of John Dolben, bishop of Rochester, published by R. Tompson. Huysmans' portraits are well drawn and coloured, and combine somewhat of the power and freedom of Van Dyck with the grace and feeling of Lely. He died in Jermyn Street, London, in 1696, and was buried in St. James's Church, Piccadilly.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum, 1849, ii. 471-2; Liggeren der Antwerpsche Sint Lucasgilde, ed. Rombouts and Van Lerius, 1865-1881, ii. 209; Burton's Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of the Pictures in the National Gallery, Foreign Schools, 1889; Scharf's Catalogue of the National Portrait Gallery, 1888; Law's Historical Catalogue of the Pictures at Hampton Court, 1881.]

R. E. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.163
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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