Cleyn, Francis

, an artist of very considerable talents, of the fifteenth century, who practised in England, was born at Rostock, and retained in the service of Christian IV. king of Denmark; but the excellence of his genius prompted him to the search of better models than he found in that northern climate. He travelled into Italy, and remained there four years, where he probably acquired a taste for the beautiful and ornamental grotesque, in which | he afterwards shone. At Venice he became known to sir Henry Wotton, and sir Robert Anstruther recommended him to prince Charles, afterwards Charles I. He arrived in England, while the prince was in Spain, but notwithstanding was graciously received by king James, who mentions that circumstance in a Latin letter (preserved in Fuller’s Worthies) which he wrote to the king of Denmark, desiring leave to detain Cleyn in England, though with a permission to return first to Copenhagen and finish a work he had begun there, and promising to pay the expence of his journey. The request being granted, Cleyn returned to London, and appears to have been first employed in jdesigns for sir Francis Crane’s manufactory of tapestry at Mortlack, by which those works were carried to singular perfection. Five of the celebrated cartoons were also sent thither to be copied by him in tapestry. He had an annuity of 100l. which he held until the rebellion, and enjoyed very high reputation by his paintings at Somerset house, and the houses of several of the nobility. There is still extant a beautiful chamber adorned by him at Holland house, with a ceiling in grotesque, and small compartments on the chimneys, in the style and not unworthy of Parmegiano. Lord Orford mentions other works by his hand, and he also made designs for engravers. This ingenious artist, whom Evelyn records as a man of piety also, died in 1658. 1


Lord Orford’s Works. Lysons’s Environs.