Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Brother and Sister 1690c.

Jan van der Haagen 

Portrait of a Brother and Sister, Jan van der Haagen
Oil on canvas
17th Century
50 x 40 inches 124 x 101.2 cm
The two children who are the subject of this painting have been depicted both to express their present character and to hint at the proper virtues and state that they will eventually attain. It is also a portrait whose most important subject remains off-stage, as the sonís gesture of childish pride indicates what must be his fatherís vessel. This ship identifies itself by the flag flying at its mast as belonging to a Flag-Officer of the White Squadron. Dynastic ambition is thus subtly communicated.

The attribution of this painting to Jan van der Haagen, one of a Dutch family of this name who worked in England from c.1670 to c.1740, is traditional, and is supported by the signature on the architecture J.Ha.f/17067. The Van der Haagen family were famed as ship painters, and were known to have studied under Van de Velde. The execution of the vessel in the background, however, does not necessarily imply the hand of a specialist marine painter, and from the treatment of the two children it appears more likely that there is an Anglo-Dutch portraitist -related or not- of this name. The heads of the children are clearly reliant on Kneller, although smoother in manner, but the drapery is highly individual with its highlights of dazzling impasto, and there is little doubt that other similar paintings will eventually be recognised, and that this painter will acquire a creditable body of work.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.