Jan Asselyn

(b. c. 1615)

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(b Dieppe, c.1615; bur. Amsterdam, 3 Oct. 1652).

Dutch painter of French descent, active mainly in Amsterdam. He spent several years in Italy in the late 1630s and early 1640s and came to specialize in real and imaginary scenes of the Roman Campagna, his glowing light effects owing much to Claude. His most famous painting, however, is not a landscape, but The Threatened Swan (c.1650, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), an unusual work—showing a bird defending its nest against a dog—that is said to be an allegory of Dutch nationalism (inscriptions added by an unknown hand identify one of the swan's eggs as ‘Holland’ and the dog as ‘the enemy of the state’). Because of a crippled hand Asselyn was nicknamed ‘Crabbetje’ (Little Crab). His friend Rembrandt made an etched portrait of him (c.1647) in which he hid the deformed hand through the position of the arm.

Subjects: Art.

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