Van der Vaart, Jan (DNB00)

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VAN DER VAART, JAN (1647–1721), painter and mezzotint-engraver, was born at Haarlem in Holland in 1647, and was a pupil of Thomas Wyck. He came to London in 1674, and first attracted notice as a painter of landscapes (in which he specially excelled), small portraits, and especially still life. Subsequently he was employed by Willem Wissing [q. v.], the portrait-painter, then in fashion at court, to paint the draperies and landscapes in his portraits. Their names appear conjointly as painters on several engravings from portraits by them. Van der Vaart was one of the first artists to practise the art of mezzotint engraving, and is said to have instructed the great engraver, John Smith (1652?–1742) [q. v.], in that art. He was employed by Richard Tompson [q. v.], whose name appears as the publisher of many mezzotint engravings bearing Van der Vaart's name or without it, and also by Edward Cooper, a portrait of whom by Van der Vaart was engraved in mezzotint by P. Pelham. After Wissing's death Van der Vaart continued to paint portraits. Among his sitters were Queen Mary and the Princess Anne. From short sight, however, he abandoned portrait-painting, and in 1713, after selling off all his pictures, he settled in a house in Covent Garden, where he practised chiefly for the remainder of his life as a restorer of pictures, an art in which he attained great skill. He died a bachelor in his house at Covent Garden in 1721, and was buried in St. Paul's Church. He drew his own portrait twice, at the ages of thirty and sixty. A nephew, John Arnold, lived with him for thirty or forty years, and assisted him in his practice.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum; Vertue's manuscripts (Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 23076, &c.); Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits.]

L. C.