A Seated Female Figure (Venus?)

Jan Harmensz. MULLER (Amsterdam, 1571 - Amsterdam, 1628)

Biography



A gifted engraver and draughtsman, Jan Harmensz. Muller was the son of Harmen Jansz. Muller, a printmaker and art dealer who ran a successful print publishing business. Trained by his father, Muller was also particularly influenced by the work of Hendrick Goltzius, in whose Haarlem studio he is believed to have served an apprenticeship in the second half of the 1580’s. He is thought to have lived for some years in Rome and Naples in the latter part of the 1590’s, but this remains conjectural. While he published a number of engravings after his own designs, Muller seems mainly to have worked as a reproductive engraver, producing numerous prints after the works of Goltzius, Cornelis van Haarlem and other Haarlem Mannerists.

Muller was related by marriage to the sculptor Adriaen de Vries, who worked at the court of the Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, and gained useful contacts with artists working there. As such, he also published a number of important engravings after the work of artists active at the Prague court, notably de Vries, Bartholomeus Spranger and Hans von Aachen. Indeed, although Muller seems never to have visited Prague himself, it is largely through his reproductive prints that the artistic style of the leading artists of the Prague court was disseminated and popularized throughout Europe.

In the first quarter of the 17th century he also produced engravings after portrait paintings by Rubens, Michiel van Mierevelt and others. Towards the middle of the 1620’s, however, Muller seems to have given up printmaking to take over the successful family publishing business, which he had inherited in 1619. Around a hundred prints by Muller are known, most of which are after the work of other artists; the largest extant group of prints by him is in the collection of the Albertina in Vienna. Although paintings by Muller are recorded in several inventories and in his will, only one painting may be firmly attributed to him today.