Jan Wyck (c.1645-1700)
Portraits such as this played a crucial role in maintaining support for William, who, along with wife Mary (daughter of James II), was invited to England to take the throne from James...
This heroic work commemorates William’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne on 1st July 1690, a significant turning point in the fight for the crown of England, Scotland and Ireland between the Protestant William of Orange and the Catholic James II.
Portraits such as this played a crucial role in maintaining support for William, who, along with wife Mary (daughter of James II), was invited to England to take the throne from James, whose religious stance was proving incompatible with a number of prominent political figures. The first of Wyck’s portraits of William depicts him soon after his arrival in Torbay in 1688 [National Maritime Museum, Greenwich], again on horseback with his fleet landing on the shorelines behind him.
Jan Wyck was described by George Vertue as having ‘grate Freedom of Pencilling and good Colour; as also a grate deal of Fire.’ Wyck was a well-known draftsman and painter of the late seventeenth century and had several aristocratic and royal clients including James, Duke of Monmouth, the king’s eldest son. He is often described as the ‘father of English sporting painting’ and was famous for painting horses in battle and hunting scenes (he also created some of the earliest portraits of horses without a rider or sitter included), landscapes and portraits and brought the Dutch ruiterportret, or equestrian portrait, to England.
Jan Wyck was born in Harlem c.1645-50 but there is some dispute over his exact birthdate as he is thought to have lied about his age in adulthood. He was the son of Thomas van Wyck, a painter, who married in Haarlem on 22nd May 1644 before traveling to England that same year. Thomas van Wyck painted many London scenes after this date including documentary images of the Great Fire of London. It is not known when Jan arrived in England but it is probable that he travelled following Charles II’s encouragement in June 1672, for more Dutchmen to settle in England.
Wyck married three times, nothing is known about his first wife but he married his second wife Ann Skynner, who was aged nineteen, in November 1676 at St Mary-le-Savoy; the couple had four children but none of them survived infancy. Following Ann’s death, Wyck married Elizabeth Holomberry in August 1688 and together they had three children, John, William and Elizabeth, but his wife died in childbirth with her namesake in 1693.
On 24th November 1680, Jan Wyck was granted a place on the ‘Committee of Acting Painters’ of the Painter-Stainers Company. His battle scene paintings, which were highly popular, took inspiration from artists such as Jacques Courtois, Philips Wouwermans and Dirck Stoop and it is believed that Jan Wyck was so good at painting these scenes, with a competency to work at any size, that he put Stoop out of business as soon as he arrived in London, forcing Stoop to leave the country. Jan Wyck died in 1700 in Mortlake.
 G. Vertue, Note Books II (Walpole Society, XX, 1932), p.141.
 K. Gibson, ‘Jan Wyck c1645-1700 A painter with ‘a grate deal of fire’’, The British Art Journal, vol 2, no.1, p.3.
 K. Gibson, ‘Jan Wyck c1645-1700 A painter with ‘a grate deal of fire’’, The British Art Journal, vol 2, no.1, p.4.