Jan van der Voort and His Sister Catharina with a Servant

CC0

Artist / maker

Ferdinand Bol (painter)

Date

1661

Period

17 century
A brothery farewell These two are siblings – the Amsterdam merchant Jan van der Voort on the left and his sister Catharina on the right. They are posing on a terrace overlooking a garden. Wearing a red dressing gown with Japanese touches, Jan is leaning casually against the balustrade holding a black karpoes, a style of cap. His sister is…
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A brothery farewell These two are siblings – the Amsterdam merchant Jan van der Voort on the left and his sister Catharina on the right. They are posing on a terrace overlooking a garden. Wearing a red dressing gown with Japanese touches, Jan is leaning casually against the balustrade holding a black karpoes, a style of cap. His sister is decorating her hair, adding flowers as a finishing touch. A servant is holding up the mirror for her, while the flowers lie ready in the jardiniere in the foreground. Catherina is wearing a sumptuous silk gown with gold embroidery and pearls from her richly stocked jewellery box. The wealth of this family positively leaps from the canvas. Several symbols hint that something big is brewing. The striking thistle in the lower right, for instance, stands for fidelity, while a tulip symbolises purity, and a rose, love. Pearls were an ancient symbol of chastity. Fidelity, purity, chastity and love? Is Catherina about to wed? She is indeed: on 28 February 1661 she married the Leiden cloth manufacturer and wholesaler Pieter de la Court, a business associate of her brothers Jan and Willem. It was presumably the still-single Jan – according to family history he doted on his sister – who commissioned their Amsterdam neighbour Ferdinand Bol to paint this farewell canvas, which remained inthe family for over a century. Bol, who trained under Rembrandt, was intimately acquainted with the city’s high society, for which he produced numerous portraits. This particular work was intended to be hung in a high place: only then does the perspective of the steep stairs make sense.
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Vlaamse Kunstcollectie - EN

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