Jan Bogaerts was born in 1878 in 's-Hertogenbosch. At a young age he lost his father and his grandfather; the latter was also a painter. As a child, Jan was more interested in music than painting. After he became the Rijks-H.B.S. - he was not very eager to learn - he enrolled at the Royal School for Useful and Visual Arts in 's-Hertogenbosch. His teachers were Piet Slager, the founder of the well-known family of painters, and the symbolist painter Antoon van Welie. Bogaerts also worked for four years in Van Welie's studio, which would have a great influence on Bogaert's early work.
After his Bossche academy days, Bogaerts left for Antwerp where, during his studies at the Academy, he became 'pensionnaire' of Queen Wilhelmina three times. After completing his studies in Antwerp, Bogaerts settled as a painter in his hometown. The subjects for his early work, which exudes a fairytale atmosphere, he finds mainly in romantic literature. However, this dreamy atmosphere did not catch on with the public and gradually, from the 1920s onwards, Bogaerts developed a very natural, realistic style that he applied in flower still lifes and still lifes with domestic objects. This distinguished himself from his contemporaries who, according to the fashion of the time, worked in a luminist, expressionist or magic-realistic style. Bogaerts was a master of material expression; he managed to portray the shine of glass and earthenware, reflective tin, fresh fruit, tomatoes, the shells of hard-boiled eggs in an inimitable way. His still lifes, with which he is seen as a forerunner of hyperrealism, are dreamy and still.
In 1905 Bogaerts settled with his wife Sofie de Meulemeester in Meerssen in Limburg and the following year in Teteringen near Breda, where they would live until 1918. In 1913 and 1914 he traveled to Luxembourg, where he painted castles near Echternach, and to Versailles, where he was impressed by the ponds and garden statues in the autumnal park and the Petit Trianon. After 1915 he continued to paint castles and gardens, but concentrated more and more on realistic still lifes. His later still lifes often contain religious objects such as rosaries and prayer books, and later also Eastern objects.
Jan Bogaerts was certainly a well-known painter in his day, but he did not really become famous among the general public. He did get publicity for his exhibitions, which were mainly held in art dealers in various places in the country and where his paintings were sold. From 1922, when Bogaerts lives in Wassenaar, he becomes more famous.
From the amount of work that remained in the possession of family after his death, it can be inferred that he certainly did not sell everything he made. Throughout his productive life, Bogaerts invariably painted with fine brushes in oil paint in living room format - his paintings were intended for the living room. His subjects, be they landscapes, castles, parks, still lifes or portraits, testified to peace and security, were never disgusting or inflammatory. Two world wars passed without leaving their traces in Bogaerts' work. He stuck to his subjects and style. In 1933, a Nijmegen critic expressed himself as follows in response to an exhibition: ``How is it possible that all the currents of time pass by him so smoothly?'' Yet there was also appreciation for his work, in the years 1915-1940. much written about him. Words such as 'romanticism, delicacy, melancholy, tenderness, warmth, splendor, precise distinction' are found in many articles about his work.
After 1935 it became quieter around Bogaerts. His work attracts less and less attention, and then only in a small circle. The modern movements did not affect him and Bogaerts always continued to pursue his own style. Today we appreciate his work again because it testifies to a time that would no longer be traceable without the objects he depicted in his paintings and because they show a technique that is no longer taught at academies. Moreover, Bogaerts has always remained faithful to his views and has developed to a surprising height in his still lifes.