Jan van der Heyden

The life and work of Jan van der Heyden, 1637 – 1712

Jan van der Heyden was born on 5 March 1637 in Gorinchem. When Jan was 9 years old, he and his family moved to Amsterdam where his father registered as a grain merchant; they lived on the Dam square. Jan was apprenticed to his brother Goris as a glass painter and as an assistant in the mirror shop on the Dam square.

On 26 June 1661 Jan marries Sara ter Hiel from Utrecht. Like Jan, she has many relatives in Germany, to which Jan regularly goes on a study trip.

His earliest work concerns his and his wife’s coats of arms. He works in great detail and uses earlier studies of townscapes. Jan van der Heyden’s works often consist of combinations. He has the figures in his paintings painted by Adriaen van der Velde, Eglon van der Neer or Johannes Lingelbach.

Painter as well as inventor

Besides painting, Jan is also active as an inventor. Together with his brother Nicolaar he invented the street lamp, which was installed not only in Amsterdam but also in other large cities, such as Haarlem, Groningen and even Berlin. In 1670 Jan is appointed superintendent of street lanterns. Jan also improved the fire engine in 1672, after the destruction of the Amsterdam Town Hall by a big fire. In 1682 he was appointed general fire master in Amsterdam. Van der Heyden was not entirely without wealth.

In 1679 Jan buys land at Koestraat 5 in Amsterdam where he builds a house and a factory. This is where his inventions were made. Later on this is taken over by his son Jan. Jan dies on 28 March 1712 in the house on Koestraat.

A masterpiece by Jan van der Heyden on your wall?

Do you want an impressive masterpiece by Jan on your wall? Take a look at his painting and choose your favourite size.