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Jan Davidsz De Heem was born in Utrecht in 1606. He first learned to paint from his father, David de Heem. Between 1626 and 1631 he resided in Leiden, where he came under the influence of David Bailly who specialized in the type of still-life known as vanitas. Vanitas paintings contain moral messages, frequently on such themes as the fleeting nature of life or the futility of riches, which are conveyed by an arsenal of symbols. De Heem was to become a distinguished practicioner of the genre.
In 1631 he moved to Antwerp where he enjoyed great success. He remained there until 1658, but he lived there on and off, between Antwerp and Utrecht. Finally, in 1672 he returned to Antwerp where he lived until his death sometime in 1683 or 1684.
Written and compiled by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California
M. Kirby Talley, Jr., in ARTnews, Summer, 1993