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Jan Frans van Bloemen

called Orizzonte, 1662 Antwerp – 1749 Rome

The Antwerp-born painter and draughtsman Jan Frans van Bloemen started about 1680 as a pupil of Anton Goubau before moving on to Paris and finally in 1684 to Italy, where he was to remain until the end of his life. In Rome he joined the Bentvueghels club of Dutch and Flemish artists and received the nickname Orizzonte, which he adopted and later used to sign his work. Van Bloemen spent most of his time in Rome and the immediate vicinity of the city, where he flourished as a landscape painter. His high standing is attested by numerous works commissioned by noble Roman families, such as the Colonna, Doria Pamphilij and Ruspoli, and now to be found in their private collections. He was mentioned by his contemporaries in the same breath as artists of the calibre of Poussin and Gaspar Dughet, and in fact van Bloemen’s landscapes are stylistically very close to the works of Dughet. Like the latter, Orizzonte preferred to portray ideal landscapes with motifs from the environs of Rome, to which he added ancient ruins and religious or mythological staffage figures. Often the staffage elements were executed by fellow artists, such as Giuseppe Passeri, Pompeo Batoni and Placido Constanzi, or by his elder brother, Pieter van Bloemen. While the surviving painted oeuvre is extensive, drawings by van Bloemen are rare.