Jan Wyck helped to make equestrian portraits, already common on the Continent, popular in the UK. He depicted several members of the nobility in easy control of a rearing horse. However, his most popular equestrian portrait depicted King William III. One example, showing William first landing at Torbay on 5 November 1688, is dated 1688 and is now in the National Maritime Museum. It has been said to demonstrate that Wyck ‘applauded the coming of his fellow-countryman’. A similar portrait, with a battle scene in the background, is at Ulster Museum in Belfast.
There are numerous versions of paintings of William at the Battle of the Boyne (fought on 1 July 1690), which are attributed to Jan Wyck. They range from detailed views of the battle, to portraits of the king, like this example. Some are undoubtedly by other artists. Amongst these works are at least eight portraits of same type as this work; showing William on a rearing horse, facing to the right, with a sword in his right hand and the battle ensuing around him. An example in the collection at Blenheim Palace is signed and dated 1692, confirming that Wyck is responsible for this portrait type.
Jan Wyck, known as John Wyck in England, was born in Haarlem in about 1640, and was instructed by his father, Thomas Wyck (c.1616-1677), whom he accompanied to England. Wyck distinguished himself as a painter of battles, sieges, hunting scenes and processions. His larger scale work is considered inferior to his small pictures. Jan Wyck painted several views of Scotland and made designs for a book on hunting and hawking. He died at Mortlake in 1702. The Yale Center for British Art has a watercolour by Wyck showing a stag hunt (Paul Mellon collection).
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