• Family Portrait (full-length): possibly Willem Visch, Eva Bisschop, their daughter Laurentia Visch, her husband Adriaen Prins and son Willem Prins

    Artist:
    Helst, Bartholomeus van der. 1613-1670
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    235x344,5 cm

Helst, Bartholomeus van der. 1613-1670

Family Portrait (full-length): possibly Willem Visch, Eva Bisschop, their daughter Laurentia Visch, her husband Adriaen Prins and son Willem Prins

Holland, 1647

An abrupt contrast to the miniature works of the Small Dutch Masters is provided by several large canvases by Bartholomeus van der Helst, above all his full-length Family Portrait. This is the largest portrait produced by the artists of the Dutch school and undoubtedly one of the most expensive. The Amsterdam-based artist was a favourite with the great Dutch burghers who had by the middle of the 17th century accumulated considerable fortunes and were seeking to emulate the aristocracy and living in palaces and suburban villas. It is indeed difficult to imagine a picture like this in the small rooms of an ordinary town house. Helst was a skilled painter who happily responded to clients keen to demonstrate their prosperity. An elderly couple have disposed themselves on the marble terrace of a house in a park. The child is holding a falcon on his arm and has hunting dogs gathered around him. Hunting, and especially falconry, was generally a privilege of the nobility in Europe at that time. A younger couple approach the parents with solemn decorum. The playful cupids in the background symbolize their love. The lack of joy on the faces of the couple suggests that this was in reality a marriage of convenience. Perhaps new money linking up with an old title. But the artist may have deliberately deviated from the Dutch tradition of freely and overtly depicting people’s emotions so as to stress the exclusiveness of the genre of this work – a formal portrait – for Dutch art of the time.

Title:

Family Portrait (full-length): possibly Willem Visch, Eva Bisschop, their daughter Laurentia Visch, her husband Adriaen Prins and son Willem Prins

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

235x344,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Acquired at an auction of the collection of King Willem II of the Netherlands, the Hague, 1850

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-862

Category:

Collection:

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