Jan van Kessel, the Elder (1626-1679, Flemish)

Jan van Kessel, the Elder (1626-1679, Flemish) was the grandson of the painter Jan Brueghel, and hence, painting was in his blood. Born in the Dutch port of Antwerp, his paintings, as many Dutch genre paintings of the time, reflect the bounty of the sea in vivid still lifes. His style reflects that of his grandfather, Jan Brueghel the Elder. Van Kessel’s most famous paintings are of flowers, insects and animals. Cats and dogs bring life to the paintings fighting over fish and seafood.

Jan van Kessel, the Elder should not be confused with a later painter Pseudo-Jan van Kessel, the Younger, whose style is entirely different. Most probably located in southern Italy, this painter copied the style as Van Kessel, the Elder producing paintings in the Flemish style, but none were signed. It could be that the paintings were produced by a studio rather than one artist.

Van Kessel, the Elder married in 1647 and produced thirteen children, two of whom, Ferdinand and Jan the Younger, followed in their father’s footsteps and became painters. Ferdinand painted in his father’s style, while the real Jan the Younger became a portrait painter for Charles II of Spain.


Cat and Dog in Still Life, Jan van Kessel, the Elder




Cats and Fish Still Life, Jan van Kessel, the Elder




Cats and Seafood Still Life, Jan van Kessel, the Elder




Fighting Cat and Dog with Still Life, Jan van Kessel, the Elder




Jan van Kessel, the Elder, Still life with marine creatures and cats




Two Cats Playing with Fish, Jan van Kessel, the Elder


Want to know more about the cat in art, history and literature? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you.  Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 



Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats



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