Carcass in a Kitchen, early 1690s

Jacob Leyssens or Jacob Lyssens (nickname Notenkraker)[1] (1661, Antwerp - 1710, Antwerp), was a Flemish painter and decorator. After training in Antwerp, he spent a long time in Rome. After his return to Antwerp, he was active as a painter and decorator and collaborated with prominent Antwerp still life painters such as Gaspar Peeter Verbruggen the Younger and Jan Baptist Bosschaert.[2]


He was a student of Peter Ykens in 1674. He travelled to Rome at a young age as he is mentioned there in 1680.[3] He became a member of the Bentvueghels, an association of mainly Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome, with the nickname ‘Notenkraker’ (Nutcracker).[4] He was probably one of the youngest Bentvueghels ever admitted.[5]

The difficult financial situation of his father caused him to return to Antwerp.[6] He was admitted as a 'wijnmeester' (wine master) to the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke in 1698. As this is a title reserved for the sons of members of the Guild, it demonstrates that his father was also a member of the Guild at that time. He was active in Antwerp as a painter and decorator in the period 1698–1710.[3]


Only a few of his works are known, one of which is in the collection of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.[5] He decorated many rooms and ceilings in prominent residences and buildings in Antwerp. He is known to have collaborated as a staffage painter with other artists such as Jan Baptist Bosschaert and Gaspar Peeter Verbruggen the Younger, who painted the flowers and fruits.[6]

He was proficient in the painting of still lifes of fruit.[3] The early Dutch biographer Jacob Campo Weyerman referred to Jacob Leyssens as a history painter, which indicates that he also painted in this genre.[2] A religious painting entitled St. Joseph with the Child Jesus was listed in the inventory on the death of J.J. Moretus and was made over to the city of Antwerp in 1876 when the Plantin-Moretus printing company was sold to the city.[7]


  1. ^ Also referred to as Nicolaas Leyssens and N. Lyssens
  2. ^ a b Jacob Leyssens in: Jacob Campo Weyerman, De levensbeschryvingen van Nederlandsche konstschilders en konstschilderessen (1729–1769) (in Dutch)
  3. ^ a b c Jacob Leyssens at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (in Dutch)
  4. ^ Bentvueghels in Rome (1620-1720) (in Dutch)
  5. ^ a b Jacob Leyssens at Hadrianus
  6. ^ a b Jacob Leyssens in Van der Aa e.a., Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden (in Dutch)
  7. ^ Leon Voet, The Golden Compasses. The History of the House of Plantin-Moretus, Vangendt & Co, Amsterdam / Routledge & Kegan Paul, London / Abner Schram, New York 1969–1972

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