Jan Six lived from 1618 to 1700 and was a true patron of the arts who purchased several Rembrandt paintings during his lifetime. These were to pass on to the Six Collection which still exists today and holds some of his other interests such as antique sculpture and engraved gems plus also some items from Italian art, of which he was also a great admirer.
Jan himself came from a wealthy family which had moved to the Netherlands from France. They had amassed wealth in the textile and silk trades, aiding this young man to invest in his main passion - art. Thankfully for his family, Jan Six quickly showed an eye for quality and spent his money wisely whilst also developing friendships with several artists that were to become some of the finest artists in history.
His own love of Dutch art would be extended to Italy after a visit in 1640. This was the normal destination for artists and patrons from Northern Europe who would be drawn by the extraordinary achievements of the Italian Renaissance artists. Rembrandt himself was rare in not wishing to make the same journey early in his artistic development, preferring to drawn in his influences from Amsterdam.
Preaching of John the Baptist that is now in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin was also owned by Jan Six and the two shared a stong friendship that went well beyond just artist and donor. Rembrandt would also be commissioned to produce etchings and drawings for his strong backer.