Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This painting is a portrait of Margaretha van Raephorst. It is part of a pair of portraits depicting a husband and wife. Portraits like these were a way for the Dutch middle class to display their success and power. Portrait pairs were created when a couple married, to show off their newly combined wealth.
- This painting displays the woman’s wealth. It depicts her wearing silk fabrics and lace, as well as several pieces of jewelry. The jewelry is made up of pearls, gold, and diamonds. The diamonds would have been imported from another country and considered to be a luxury good.
- Flinck was a Dutch artist in the 17th century, during the Dutch Golden Age. At this time in history, Dutch trade, science, and art were among the best in the world.
- Flinck studied under Rembrandt. Flinck’s style was so similar that his paintings were sometimes confused with Rembrandt’s paintings.
This portrait presents a woman wearing what would have been the height of fashion in 1646. Whereas many Dutch portraits from this period show the subjects dressed somberly in black, fashion started to change around 1650, becoming more extravagant and colorful.
While the lavish silks, lace, and setting speak to the sitters’ wealth, Margaretha’s jewelry puts an even greater emphasis on imported luxury. She wears several strands of small pearls on each wrist, a large, double-stranded pearl necklace, a pearl-and-gold pendant, a large diamond brooch, and a diamond solitaire bracelet and ring. Prized for their rarity, value, and brilliance, most diamonds imported to Europe between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries came from the Godavari delta in India, with the number of mines and volume of exports expanding alongside European colonialism.
This is one of a pair of portraits depicting a husband and wife. Portraits like these were a way for the thriving 17th-century Dutch middle class to present a new image of success and sophistication to the world. Many pairs, often created on the occasion of a wedding and the consolidation of wealth and power between families, speak to the ambitions and aspirations of their sitters.
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