Jan Frans van Dael or Jean-François van Dael
(27 May 1764 – 20 March 1840) was a Flemish painter and lithographer specializing
in still lifes of flowers and fruit. He had a successful career in Paris where his
patrons included the Empresses of Empire France as well as the kings of Restoration
Jan Frans van Dael was born in Antwerp where he studied architectural drawing at
the local Academy. He won the Academy's first prizes for architecture in 1784 and
1785. He travelled to Paris in 1786 where he resided there in the artists'
accommodations at the Louvre, near artists Piat Joseph Sauvage, Gerard van
Spaendonck en Pierre-Joseph Redouté. From 1806 until 1813 he worked as a
state-protected artist in a studio in the Sorbonne.
He was originally active as a decorator and worked on projects at the châteaux
of St. Cloud, Bellevue and Chantilly. He became self-taught in painting. Under the
influence of van Spaendonck he turned to flower painting.
He regularly submitted work to the Paris Salon between 1793 and 1833 as well as
to Salons in the Low Countries. Evidence of his success are the many commissions he
secured from the Empresses Josephine (who owned five of his works) and Marie-Louise
Bonaparte as well as Restoration kings Louis XVIII and Charles X.
He collected the works of flower artists, both by his contemporaries and the
great 17th-century Dutch still life painters Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Abraham Mignon,
Rachel Ruysch and Jan van Huysum.
His pupils were Jean Benner-Fries, Elise Bruyère, Laurent Coste, Vicomtesse
Iphigénie Decaux-Milet-Moreau, Henriëtte Geertruida Knip, Elisa-Emilie Le Mire,
Auguste Piquet de Brienne, Christiaan van Pol, Adèle Riché, and Jean Ulrich
He spent his whole active career in France. He died in Paris in 1840 and was
buried in the cemetery of Père Lachaise by the side of his friend van
Van Dael mainly painted still lifes of flowers and fruit. Some of these
compositions include a background landscape. Van Dael also painted a landscape
composition. Van Dael signed as 'Vandael' and monogrammed as: I V D, V D and VD
Van Dael's work stands in the Flemish and Dutch tradition of flower painting
exemplified by Roelandt Savery with its sober composition and attention to detail.
He also brought to many of his flower arrangements a French-inspired decorative
Van Dael composed his flower-pieces with a variety of species, which he is
believed to have studied from life. Van Dael applied a smooth gesso layer to his
canvases, which allowed him to recreate the jewel-like quality of 17th century
panels. He departed from 17th-century still lifes in his use of a lighter palette
of pinks, blues and yellows. A number of his still life works were used to decorate
small objects, such as boxes. The Fitzwilliam Museum possesses a collection of
Van Dael painted in 1828 a view of his house (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen,
Rotterdam), which is a small masterpiece. He further painted a few religious and
allegorical compositions. One of his best known allegorical paintings is Julie’s
Tomb of 1804 (Château de Malmaison). It depicts a flower and fruit arrangement
before a tomb and can be read as an allegory of life and death.
He also made a few lithographs.