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In this painting, the artist Jan Miense Molenaer has portrayed himself with his brothers, halfbrothers and sisters in a genre-style scene. To the left sits his oldest sister Geertruijt, playing the cithern. Beside her stands Bartholomeus with a violin, Adriaen with a lute, Maria who sings and beats time, and Anthonij with a cello.
In front of the cello lie music parts, for the bass and the tenor. The youngest children, Nicolaes and Lucia, stand on the right. Nicolaes is blowing bubbles. He hold a dish of soapy water (a shell on a stick) in one hand and a bubble pipe in the other. Behind the harpsichord stand two half-brothers, Meyndert and Cornelis, sons of a previous marriage of Jan Miense’s father. The elder holds a portrait of their deceased mother. The painter’s father and mother appear in the large portrait paintings in the background. This family portrait is full of symbolism. Blowing bubbles is an allusion to mortality. Making music together expresses the harmony in the Molenaer family. Other symbols of harmony are the two clasped hands and the burning heart with two arrows on the harpsichord. The little dog on the cushion symbolizes fidelity.

Details

  • Title: Self-Portrait with Family Members
  • Creator: Jan Miense Molenaer
  • Date Created: 1630/1640
  • Physical Dimensions: Panel, 62,3 × 81,3 cm
  • Type: Painting; portrait
  • Medium: Oil on panel

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