Jan Asselijn

Jan Asselijn, “The Threatened Swan”, 1650, Oil on Canvas, 57 x 67 Inches, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Asselijn was born at Dieppe from a French Huguenot family as Jean Asselin. He received instruction from Esaias van de Velde (1587–1630), and distinguished himself particularly in landscape and animal painting, though his historical works and battle pieces are also admired. He traveled in France and Italy, and modeled his style after Bamboccio (Pieter van Laer), also a member of the Bentvueghels.

The Threatened Swan, which portrays a swan aggressively defending its nest, became a symbol of Dutch national resistance, although it is unknown if Asselijn intended it to be so. In particular, it was interpreted as a depiction of Johan de Witt. The painting has been dated to the 1640s. It is considered to be Asselijn’s most famous work and was the Rijksmuseum’s first acquisition.

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