Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This painting is part of a pair of wedding portraits of a husband and wife. A portrait is a representation of a particular person. This is a portrait of a Dutch man named Jan van Hellemont. His wife is portrayed in the other portrait, titled Portrait of Margaretha van Raephorst (1625–1690).
- In the 17th century, the Dutch middle class often had their portraits painted as a way to display their success and power. Portrait pairs were created when a couple married.
- This painting displays the man’s wealth. It shows him wearing a white collar and wrist cuffs made of fine lace, and his cape appears to be embroidered with gold thread and lined with velvet.
- Govaert Flinck was a Dutch painter in the 17th century, in what is known as the Dutch Golden Age. Many new developments in the arts and sciences happened in the Netherlands during that time.
- Flinck was a student of Rembrandt, and his painting style was similar to that of his teacher. Some paintings Flinck created were mistaken for Rembrandt’s work.
This oil painting is part of a portrait pair that was created when a Dutch couple married in 1646. The pair of portraits was intended to show off their newly combined wealth and power. Portraits like these were a way for the thriving 17th-century Dutch middle class to present a successful image of themselves to the world.
The subject of this portrait, Jan van Hellemont, is wearing what would have been the height of fashion when the painting was created. Most Dutch portraits from this time period depicted people dressed in black. Fashion started to become more extravagant and colorful around 1650. The fine lace and gold-embroidered, velvet-lined cape the man is wearing indicate his wealth. In the companion piece to this painting, Jan’s wife (Margaretha van Raephorst) is shown wearing similarly luxurious fabrics and expensive, imported jewelry. The couple’s ability to have their portraits painted by a well-known artist is also a sign of wealth.
Govaert Flinck was a Dutch Golden Age painter. During the Dutch Golden Age, Dutch trade, science, and art were among the best in the world. Dutch colonization and trade brought wealth and power to the Netherlands. Flinck is known for creating Baroque paintings that include realistic-looking portraits and genre scenes of everyday life. He studied painting under Rembrandt van Rijn, who was also a Dutch Golden Age painter. Their styles were so similar that Flinck’s early paintings were sometimes confused with Rembrandt’s paintings.
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