Pieter van Mol – The allegory of air –
Pieter van Mol or Peter van Mol (17 November 1599 in Antwerp – 8 April 1650 in Paris) was a Flemish painter known for his history paintings of religious subject matter, and to a lesser extent for his allegorical compositions, genre scenes and portraits. His style was profoundly influenced by Rubens, Abraham Janssens and Artus Wolffort. He was court painter to the King and Queen of France.
He was an apprentice to the rather obscure painter Zeger van den Graeve in Antwerp from 1611 to 1622. He became a master in the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1623. He may also have been a pupil or assistant of Artus Wolffort as his style is close to that of Wolffort. Wolffort’s compositions have on occasion been attributed to van Mol.
It is possible that Pieter van Mol accompanied Rubens in 1625 when he visited Paris to execute the Marie de’ Medici cycle for the Galerie de Luxembourg. He set up a studio in Paris in 1631. He received several commissions from churches, such as the 1635 one for the frescoes in the chapelle du Sacré-Cœur in the Église Saint-Joseph-des-Carmes. In 1637 he became court painter to the King and he received the title of ‘peintre ordinaire du roi’ (‘regular painter to the King’). He received commissions from the French Queen Anne of Austria and was appointed ‘peintre ordinaire de la Reyne’ (‘regular painter to the Queen’) in 1642.
On 19 February 1640 Pieter van Mol married Anne van der Burght (or Anna van der Burch) in the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris. The couple had eight children, of whom Robert van Mol (or Robert de Mol) became a painter and engraver. In 1643 the Flemish Confraternity in Paris commissioned from him a large altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds for the abbey church of St Germain des Prés (now in the Musée des beaux-arts de Marseille), which is representative of his Parisian works.
In 1644 he is recorded residing among the circle of Flemish and Dutch artists active in Paris, which included Jacques Fouquier, Philippe Vleughels, Willem Kalf, Nicasius Bernaerts and Peter van Boucle. He worked at the court of Louis XIII.
In 1648 he was one of the 12 artists who founded France’s Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture under the patronage of Cardinal Mazarin. This later became the Académie des beaux-arts.
In Paris Pieter van Mol first lived in the rue Saint Jacques and later in the rue Taranne where he died on 8 April 1650.