The Painter Anthony Schoonjans
Anthony Schoonjans is born in Ninove (B) in March 1655 (baptized on 5 March 1655) as son of Joannes Schoonjans (wine merchant) and Anna Van den Driesschen. In 1688, he was a pupil of Erasmus Quellinus II, under whom he studied until he was nineteen years of age, when he travelled to Italy in search of improvement. Erasmus Quellinus II, a contemporary of Antony Van Dyck, is one of the best known students of Peter Paul Rubens.
On January 6th 1675; Anthony Schoonjans was in Rome (I) where he familiarized himself with the Italian Baroque. He remained in Rome until 1693 where he remained as a member of the Bentveughels.
In 1693 he moved to Vienna (A) where he was appointed court painter to Emperor Leopold I and where he had the baroque painter Georg Gsell as student. In Vienna, he married with the opera singer Maria Regina Schweizer(in). He then leaves Vienna to accompany his wife for a performance trip throughout a number of European countries.
Anthony Schoonjans (Sevonyans), portrait (detail), by Alexander Bannerman (sc) line engraving, published from the second edition of the Anecdotes of Painting good borders small detailed engraving by Horace Walpole, printed at the Strawberry hill press in 1762.
In 1695 and thereafter he worked for all the major North European courts. In 1696 he was in Copenhagen (DK); in 1702-3 he was in Berlin (D) where he worked on the decorations of the Royal palace at Charlottenburg. In 1704 he is recorded at The Hague (NL).
The desire of visiting England induced him to request the permission of his patron to absent himself some time from his service, and he came to this country in the reign of King William, and was employed in ornamenting some of the mansions of the nobility, and in portrait painting.
Anthony Schoonjans (often called Sevonyans or Schonjans) was known having painted the staircase in Little Montagu-house, at de corner of Bloomsbury-square, and the head of Dr. Peter, of St. Martin’s-lane. The late Lord Orford had the portret of Schoonjans, painted by himself.
A few drawings of Anthony Schoonjans are found in the British Museum, such as: „Lot and his Daughters”, „Susannah and the Elders” and „A satyr bringing flowers to a nymph”. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge owns a drawing by Anthony Schoonjans: „A leopard hunt in a wooded landscape by a waterfall”. Given by Frank Brangwyn, British painter, born in Bruges (B) as the son of a Welsh architect.
„The Rape of Proserpine” (oil on canvas) at Chiswick is a fine example of Anthony Schoonjans work. His portrait painted by himself was in the collection at Strawberry Hill.
He was at Amsterdam in 1706 and from 1711 to 1716 he was at the service of the Elector Palatine in Dusseldorf.
Anthony Schoonjans was a famous baroque painter of the Antwerp School. He remained a popular artist in court circles throughout his career providing the elite with portraits as well as grandiose religious, historical and mythological subject paintings.
Anthony Schoonjans dies on 13 augustus 1726 in his Vienna home in the Schlauflergasse.