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Frederick van Velthuysen and his wife, Josina

Thomas de Keyser1636

National Gallery of Victoria

National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne, Australia

In the 1630s, Thomas de Keyser was the most fashionable portrait painter in Amsterdam, his work being extremely popular with the city’s middle and upper classes. De Keyser’s paintings are characterized by a highly detailed, realistic style and by figures in rather formal poses. This manner of painting was in vogue in the Netherlands in the early seventeenth century, and de Keyser, as one of the leading exponents of the style, had a strong influence on other artists, including the young Rembrandt. This painting shows de Keyser at his most brilliant, particularly in his masterly treatment of a variety of fabrics and textures.

The sitters in this portrait are Frederick and Josina van Velthuysen, and the panel is a type of ‘marriage portrait’, a genre that apparently originated in Netherlandish painting. In most cases, marriage portraits were expressions of the perceived social and economic status of the sitters. Costume was of primary importance, and here the quality of the clothing is indicative of wealth and high social standing. However, in keeping with Netherlandish Protestant traditions, the outfits, though rich, are not ostentatious. As the son of a burgomaster (mayor) of Utrecht, Frederick van Velthuysen would have been one of that city’s elite citizens. The couple are shown on the terrace of a classicizing building, against the background of an Italianate town and landscape, a fanciful setting that indicates the sitters’ intellectual and mercantile interest in Italy. Van Velthuysen was a merchant who traded extensively with Italy.

Text by Laurie Benson from Painting and sculpture before 1800 in the international collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2003, p. 72.

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  • Title: Frederick van Velthuysen and his wife, Josina
  • Creator: Thomas de Keyser
  • Date Created: 1636
  • Physical Dimensions: w805 x h1149 cm (Unframed)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria in memory of their parents Eric and Marian Morgan by Lynton and Nigel Morgan, Founder Benefactors, 1987, © National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: oil on wood panel
  • Provenance: Collection of the sitter, Frederick van Velthuysen (d. 1658), Amsterdam, 1636–58; collection of Lord Hampden; collection of Harriet (1751–1829), Viscountess Hampden, London, before 1829; estate of Viscountess Hampden, until 1834; included in the sale of her estate Christie’s London, 16–18 April 1834, no. 60 as by Gonzales (amended to de Keyser); from where acquired by Town and Emanuel (dealer), London, 1834; collection of Rochelle-Thomas family, by 1920;included in the sale, Christie's, London, 20 February 1920, no. 97; from which purchased by Thomas Agnew's and Sons (dealer), 1920; from where purchased by Asscher, Koetser and Welker, London, 1920; with Asscher & Welker, London, until 1934; collection of Sir George Leon (1875–1947), 2nd Baronet, London, (c. 1934)–1947; collection of Alan P. Good (d. 1953), Glympton Park, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, before 1953; included in the late Alan P. Good sale, Sotheby's, London, 15 July 1953, no. 33; from which purchased by Davies; collection of Eric Morgan, Melbourne; by descent to Lynton Morgan and Nigel Morgan, Melbourne, by 1987; by whom presented to the National Gallery of Victoria, through The Art Foundation of Victoria, 1987.

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