Jan Fijt or Johannes Fijt (or Fyt) (19 August 1609 – 11 September 1661) was a Flemish Baroque painter, draftsman and engraver. He was known for his fine depictions of animals and his lush hunting pieces.
Jan Fyt was born in Antwerp, the son of a wealthy merchant. In 1621 he was registered with the Corporation of Saint Luke in Antwerp as an apprentice of Hans van den Berghe and later with Rubens also in Antwerp. Fyt completed his training with the leading Antwerp animal painter Frans Snyders from 1629 to 1631. He became a master of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke in 1630.
After embarking on a trip to southern Europe in 1633, Fyt stopped in Paris. The following year he went to Italy. He worked in Venice for the important Sagredo and Contarini families. During his stay in Italy, he most likely visited Naples, Florence and Genoa. He resides in Rome in 1635. Here he joins the Bentvueghels, an association of mainly Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome. It was customary for the Bentvueghel to adopt a catchy nickname, the so-called “folded name”. Fyt was reportedly given the folded name “Goudvink” (“bullfinch”). The Italian art historian Pellegrino Antonio Orlandi stated in his pictorial Abecedario of 1704 that Fyt also spent time in Spain and London.
In 1641 Fyt is registered in Antwerp, where he remained active for the rest of his life except for a short trip to the Dutch Republic which he is believed to have made that same year. Fyt ran a successful studio in Antwerp that produced many copies of his creations. He became a wealthy man and maintained a network of contacts with patrons and art dealers both at home and abroad.
Unfortunately he was often mentioned in the Antwerp court documents in connection with disputes and court cases with other painters and members of his family for money.
Fyt joined the Guild of Romanists in 1650. The Guild of Romanists was a society of notables and artists active in Antwerp from the 16th to the 18th century. It was a condition for membership that the member had visited Rome. In the year 1652 the guild chose Fyt as its dean.
Fyt married Françoise van de Sande on March 22, 1654, and the couple had four children. He died in Antwerp on 11 September 1661.
Fyt’s pupils included Pieter Boel and Jaques van de Kerckhove. Pieter Boel’s style remained very close to Fyt’s.