Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel and a Spaniel 1690c.

Frederick Kerseboom (163293)

Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel and a Spaniel, Frederick Kerseboom
Zoom
Oil on canvas
17th Century
50 x 40 inches 127 x 101.2 cm
 
The work of Frederic Kerseboom is not easily distinguished from that of the Johann Kerseboom (fl.1680-1708) who is believed to have been his nephew. At its best, however, in works such as this, his manner is admirably graceful. No part of the composition suggests other than the fullest engagement of the artist's powers.

The face is depicted with a softness invariably absent from the contemporary works of the more prolific Kneller, and, in place of the standard expression which, freed from fashion, appears one of well-bred boredom, the sitter's aspect is engaging and enigmatic. Other works -such as Miss Bate (Private collection) demonstrate the same proficiency.

The landscape too owes less to convention than those of other painters, and the distant view of a lake through trees seems a plausible glimpse of a country house park, much as such naturalism would have been unlikely at this date. The dog and squirrel are painted with considerable animation and supply a narrative element rare in English portraits of this period.

Identification of the sitter remains uncertain. In the instance of earlier portraiture -Hans Holbein the Youger's Lady with a squirrel (National Gallery, London)- commentators have been eager to detect a heraldic reference, but it remains possible then as with this painting, that the artist has depicted the sitter with two of her favourite pets.

The work of Frederic Kerseboom is not easily distinguished from that of the Johann Kerseboom (fl.1680-1708) who is believed to have been his nephew. At its best, however, in works such as this, his manner is admirably graceful. No part of the composition suggests other than the fullest engagement of the artist''s powers. The face is depicted with a softness invariably absent from the contemporary works of the more prolific Kneller, and, in place of the standard expression which, freed from fashion, appears one of well-bred boredom, the sitter's aspect is engaging and enigmatic. Other works -such as Miss Bate (Private collection) demonstrate the same proficiency.

The landscape too owes less to convention than those of other painters, and the distant view of a lake through trees seems a plausible glimpse of a country house park, much as such naturalism would have been unlikely at this date. The dog and squirrel are painted with considerable animation and supply a narrative element rare in English portraits of this period.

Identification of the sitter remains uncertain. In the instance of earlier portraiture -Hans Holbein the Younger's Lady with a squirrel (National Gallery, London)- commentators have been eager to detect a heraldic reference, but it remains possible then as with this painting, that the artist has depicted the sitter with two of her favourite pets.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.