Details
DIRCK DIRCKSZ. VAN SANTVOORT (AMSTERDAM c. 1610-1680)
Portrait of a girl, full-length, in a black dress, holding a glove and some buttercups, with a dog
inscribed and dated 'Ætatis. Sua .6· / Anno · 1632 ·' (upper right)
oil on panel
4514 x 3312 in. (114.9 x 85.1 cm.)

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Provenance
with Richard Green, London, by 1982, from whom acquired by the present owner.
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Lot Essay

Santvoort, who was active in Amsterdam at the same time as Rembrandt, painted numerous single and group portraits in varying formats during his career, however, as Rudi Ekkart has remarked: ‘Santvoort's most striking gift was his ability to portray children, where his gifts of precise observation and his uncluttered style produced some delightful results’ (Grove Art Online). This charming portrait of a young girl is one of Santvoort’s earliest surviving dated works and the earliest dated portrait of a child in his oeuvre. It was executed when Santvoort was in his early twenties and pre-dates by four year his Portrait of Willem van Loon, which was previously believed to be his earliest individual portrait of a child (1636; Amsterdam, Museum van Loon).

Santvoort was born into a family of painters: he was the son of the painter Dirck Pietersz. Bontepaert; the grandson of Pieter Pietersz.; and the great-grandson of Pieter Aertsen. His skills as a portraitist are evident in this work, in the smooth modelling of the flesh tones and the fine rendering of detail in the costume. The anatomy and character of the dog, with his bell collar, are also expertly captured. While some of Santvoort’s portraits of children show the sitters in more relaxed poses in pastoral settings, such as his portraits of Martinus and Clara Alewijn (1644; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), the more formal presentation of the child in this painting may indicate that it was intended as a betrothal portrait. This idea is supported by the inclusion of a pair of gloves, which often feature in marriage portraiture; the dog, which represents fidelity; and the prominent inclusion of a buttercup, which when featured in portraiture at this date signified a sitter’s unmarried status.

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