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Dutch Painting

A Musical Party

Jacob van Velsen
Oil on oak panel, 40 x 55.8 cm.
The National Gallery, London
A Musical Party, Jacob van velsen

Jacob van VELSEN
Delft c. 1597–1656 Amsterdam

Almost nothing is known about the early part of Jacob van Velsen's life. He was the son of a certain Jan Jacobsz van Velsen and Janntegen Jansdr van der Hooch and was born about 1597. He is next mentioned on April 18, 1625) when be enrolled in the Guild of Saint Luke in Delft. Apparently his family was so poor that his mother had to pay in three installments the registration fee of 6 guilders and the first annual membership fee of 3 guilders. It has often been speculated that Van Velsen was the pupil of Anthonie Palamedesz, but there is no documentary evidence of it. He never needed to earn a living from his painting, however, on September 26, 1626, only a year after be had entered the guild, be married Geertgen Jans Crol, the wealthy Catholic widow of Joost Hesemansz from Delft.

The artist spent his entire life in Delft but died in Amsterdam, perhaps while on a journey, on September 16. 1656. He was buried at great expense in Delft a short while later. An enormous inventory of his possessions, drawn up at his death, reveals the family's considerable wealth. Besides several houses in Delft, on the Oude Langendijk and on the Oude Delft, they owned houses and estates outside the city. The inventory of the house where Van Velsen lived includes bout 150 paintings (unfortunately, not identified by artist), numerous pieces of Chinese porcelain, and a sizable collections of curiosities and naturalia. According to a prenuptial agreement, the property was to be divided among Van Velsen's widow, his five children, and other members of the family.

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