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Ján Kupecký was born in 1666 or 1667 into the family of a weaver in Pezinok, on the territory of today’s Slovakia. To avoid having to learn weaving, which his father insisted on, the young man ran away from home at the age of 15. In the castle of Holíč, belonging to Count Adam Czabor of Czabor (d. 1691), he met the Swiss painter Benedict Klaus, who was employed as a conservator in the residence.

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Ján Kupecký was born in 1666 or 1667 into the family of a weaver in Pezinok, on the territory of today’s Slovakia. To avoid having to learn weaving, which his father insisted on, the young man ran away from home at the age of 15. In the castle of Holíč, belonging to Count Adam Czabor of Czabor (d. 1691), he met the Swiss painter Benedict Klaus, who was employed as a conservator in the residence. Klaus discovered Ján Kupecký’s painting talent and became his first teacher. The painter took the young man to Vienna, where he received a thorough craft education in the 1680s. In Vienna, Kupecký began to learn portrait painting, mainly by copying the paintings of Johann Carl Loth (d. 1698).
After finishing his craft education, the painter went on a period of journeyman years. His destinations were Venice and Rome. He visited the Academy of Saint Luke in the Eternal City and worked for a copyist of paintings for two years. Making replicas of the works of great masters of Italian painting formed his aesthetic views and allowed him to learn the techniques of Roman and Venetian painting. Even back then, he had gained a reputation as a good portraitist and made many friends, including the painters Joachim Beich (1666–1748) and Johann Georg Blendinger (1667–1741). He received many commissions for portraits, including from the Polish prince Aleksander Sobieski(1677–1714), in whose service Kupecký remained for two years.
In 1709, the painter returned to Vienna, where he portrayed aristocrats and members of royal families. In 1711, the painter was called into the court of Augustus the Strong in Dresden, where he created images of the Elector and his family. Later, when Kupecký returned to Vienna, the Roman Emperor Charles VI Habsburg offered him the post of court painter. Kupecký refused, in spite of the very favourable employment conditions he was offered. As a result, the painter fell out of the emperor’s favour. At the same time, the persecution of Protestants intensified in Vienna. For these reasons, the painter moved to Nuremberg in 1723. In this new place, Kupecký created mainly portraits as well: apart from aristocrats and the church hierarchy, he also painted Nuremberg patricians. In Nuremberg, Kupecký continued to receive offers to work as a court painter (he was invited by the King of England and Queen of Denmark), but the painter refused. During the Nuremberg period, Kupecký expanded his repertoire to include genre scenes.
Unfortunately, it is not known who is depicted in the portrait in the collections of the Academy of Fine Arts, and the circumstances of its creation are unknown.

Bibliography:

  1. Wilhelm Schwemmer, Kupetzky, Johann [in:] Neue Deutsche Biographie, vol. 13, p. 315 and nn.
  2. Nürnberger Künstlerlexikon: bildende Künstler, Kunsthandwerker, Gelehrte, Sammler, Kulturschaffende und Mäzene vom 12. bis zur Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts, ed. Manfred H. Grieb, vol. 1, München 2009, p. 871.


Elaborated by Adam Spodaryk (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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“Portrait of a man” by Ján Kupecký

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