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Frans Van Mieris I

 (1635 - 1681)
Frans Van Mieris I was active/lived in Netherlands.  Frans Mieris I is known for Genre and portrait painting.

Frans Van Mieris I

Biography from the Archives of askART

Frans van Mieris, the Elder (16 April 1635 - 12 March 1681),

He was a Dutch Golden Age genre and portrait painter.  The leading member of a Leiden family of painters, his sons Jan (1660-1690) and Willem (1662-1747) and his grandson Frans van Mieris the Younger (1689-1763) were also accomplished genre painters.

Frans was born and died in Leiden, where his father Jan Bastiaans van Mieris was a goldsmith, carver of rubies and diamond setter.  His father wished to train him to his own business, but Frans preferred drawing, and studied with Jacob Toorenvliet's father, Abraham Toorenvliet, a glazier who kept a school of design.  From his own father's shop he became familiar with the ways and dress of people of distinction.  His eye was fascinated in turn by the sheen of jewelry and stained glass; and, though he soon left Toorenvliet for the workshops of Gerard Dou and Abraham van den Tempel, he acquired the Leiden fijnschilder manner over the Amsterdam finish of the disciples of Rembrandt.

It should be borne in mind that he seldom chose panels of which the size exceeded 12 to 15 inches, and whenever his name is attached to a picture above that size we may surely assign it to his son Willem or to some other imitator.  Unlike Dou when he first left Rembrandt, or Jan Steen when he started on an independent career, Mieris never ventured to design figures as large as life.  Characteristic of his art in its minute proportions is a shiny brightness and metallic polish.

The subjects which he treated best are those in which he illustrated the habits or actions of the wealthier classes; but he sometimes succeeded in homely incidents and in portrait, and not infrequently he ventured on allegory.  He repeatedly painted the satin skirt which Ter Borch brought into fashion, and he often rivaled Ter Borch in the faithful rendering of rich and highly-colored woven materials. 

It questionable whether Houbraken has accurately recorded this master's birthday.  One of his best-known works, a party of ladies and gentlemen at an oyster luncheon, in the Hermitage at St Petersburg, bears the date of 1650.  Celebrated alike for composition and finish, it would prove that Mieris had reached his prime at the age of fifteen.  Another beautiful example, the "Doctor Feeling a Lady's Pulse" in the gallery of Vienna, is dated 1656; and Waagen, in one of his critical essays, justly observes that it is a remarkable production for a youth of twenty-one. 

In 1657 Mieris was married at Leiden in the presence of Jan Potheuck, a painter, and this is the earliest written record of his existence on which we can implicitly rely.  Of the numerous panels by Mieris, twenty-nine at least are dated—the latest being an allegory, long in the Ruhl collection at Cologne, illustrating what he considered the kindred vices of drinking, smoking and dicing, in the year 1680. 

Mieris had numerous and distinguished patrons.  He received valuable commissions from Archduke Leopold, the elector-palatine, and Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.  His practice was large and lucrative, but never engendered in him either carelessness or neglect. If there be a difference between the painter's earlier and later work, it is that the former was clearer and more delicate in flesh, whilst the latter was often darker and more livid in the shadows.  When he died his clients naturally went over to his son Willem, who in turn bequeathed his painting-room to his son Frans.  But neither Willem nor Frans van Mieris the Younger equalled Frans the elder.


Biography from J. Paul Getty Museum and Research Institute
Frans van Mieris the Elder belonged to an illustrious family of goldsmiths and painters. After an apprenticeship with his cousin, Van Mieris studied painting with Gerrit Dou, the first and most famous member of the fijnschilders (fine painters) in his native Leiden. Dou called him the "Prince of my Pupils."

In the style of the fijnschilders-- minutely proportioned subjects with bright colors, a shiny finish, and precise attention to detail--Van Mieris painted on wood or copper panels rarely larger than fifteen square inches. He represented common incidents in the lives of the working class as well as the habits and customs of the wealthy. His paintings were highly acclaimed in his lifetime and earned Van Mieris a great deal of money. Unfortunately, he wasted his fortune through alcoholism and poor management of his finances. Although contemporaries recognized Van Mieris as one of the leading Dutch artists of the 1600s, his paintings fell into relative obscurity in the 1700s.

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About  Frans Van Mieris I

Born:  1635 - Leyden, Netherlands
Died:   1681 - Leyden, Netherlands
Known for:  Genre and portrait painting