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Family Portrait, c. 1670-75

Jacob Ochtervelt

Dutch, 1634-1682
Oil on canvas
36-1/8 x 31-1/8 in. (91.8 x 79.1 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

Skillfully integrating genre painting and portraiture, Ochtervelt creates here a sumptuous image of formal elegance that reflects the aristocratic ideals and social ambitions of his patrician subjects. The family poses in the main room of an elegant home decorated in the classical style of the late seventeenth century. Wearing a quilted silk Japanese kimono, the father dominates this pyramidal composition, his garb a reminder of the Dutch presence in the east with the trading industry. The rich textures of his wife’s shimmering, white silk dress embroidered with silver thread, the red velvet chair, and the Anatolian carpet are striking against the warmer background shadows, an effect that Ochtervelt admired in the works of Johannes Vermeer and Gerard ter Borch. Flying ribbons on the young child’s dress suggest that she has just rushed in with her bounding spaniel, from whom she hides a biscuit. Her left hand reaches towards her mother and the orange that she holds. A popular reference to fertility, the orange is likely to refer in this case to the domestic tranquility of the scene, interrupted only by the bounding spaniel, which in family portraits is often used as a reference to learning.

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