The Antwerp-born Jan Miel, whose master is unknown, was a major figure among painters of daily life in Rome. He is documented in the city from 1636-1658, but was presumably already there in 1633. He was the only Dutch painter after Paul Bril to pursue a career in Rome without interruption for more than three decades.
Upon his arrival, Miel probably joined the Bentvueghels. His Bent name was Bieco or Honingh-Bie, as he was called by Willem Schellinks when he visited the artist in December 1663. Miel emerged frоm the circle оf genre painters influenced by Pieter van Laer аnd the so-called Bamboccianti. Under the influence of Van Laer nearly a dozen artists including Jan Miel, Michelangelo Cerquozzi, Andreas Both and Jan Both produced highly individual paintings of daily life. These small scale works depicted peasants, travellers, gentlemen and cavaliers. Jan Miel was a vital force in establishing this new tradition in Rome and his works can nowadays be found in many Roman galleries.
Miel’s first dated paintings are the companions The Bocci Players and the Shoemaker, both executed in 1633. The period between 1640 and 1650 was the most fertile, energetic, and inventive period of Miel’s art, with a characteristic subtle brushwork and rich and refined use of colour. From around 1646-1656, Jan Miel also painted frescoes and altar pieces in Roman churches and palaces, such as the Crossing of the Red Sea (1656, Quirinal) and The veneration of S. Lambert (S. Maria dell' Anima.), and works for the S. Martino ai Monti and the San Lorenzo in Lucina. Miel’s late period shows a marked decline in his activity as a painter of daily life. (SR)