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Essay – Gerbrand van den Eeckhout – Portrait of Maria Dircksdr Bogaert

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Essay - Gerbrand van den Eeckhout - Portrait of Maria Dircksdr Bogaert

According to the inscription, the young lady depicted here was 19 years of age when Van den Eeckhout painted her portrait in 1670. Thanks to another inscription, this one on the back of the canvas, we also know her identity: she is Maria Dircksdr Bogaert.1 She came from a wealthy Delft family, was baptised in the Oude Kerk on 11 September 1650 and buried there on 7 March 1733.2 She appears to have been a member of the family of the artist’s stepmother, Cornelia Dedel, his father’s second wife. Cornelia Dedel’s sister, Maria Dedel, was Maria Dircksdr Bogaert’s aunt and godmother: she was married to Jacob Holthuijsen, the brother of Maria Bogaert’s mother, Ida Holthuijsen.3

When it came time for Maria Dircksdr Bogaert to have her portrait painted, her family turned to Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, albeit a resident of Amsterdam but a ‘kinsman’ as well. Van den Eeckhout’s likeness leaves no doubt as to the family’s patrician status, clearly indicated by the sitter’s luxurious and fashionable attire, which is set off with an abundance of fine black and white lace. Moreover, she wears a large number of pearls: around her neck, in her hair and large pendants are hanging from her ears.

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout trained with Rembrandt in the years 1635-40. He appears to have remained close with his master, who was 15 years his elder.4 He painted many biblical scenes, but also portraits, figure studies and the occasional landscape. The portraits, of which around 20 have survived, make up only a small portion of his oeuvre. In addition to simple likenesses, Van den Eeckhout also painted a number of so-called portraits historiés and two group portraits. His early works in the genre, such as the pendant portraits of his father and stepmother of 1644 (fig. 1), closely follow the Rembrandt model. But like other Rembrandt pupils – for example Govert Flinck (1615-1660) and Ferdinand Bol (cat. no. 8) – he would subsequently employ a smoother brush and less dramatic lighting.

The portrait of Maria Dircksdr Bogaert was up to now unknown in the art-historical literature and is, for instance, missing in Sumowski’s catalogue of Van den Eeckhout paintings.5 The portrait – painted one year after Rembrandt’s death – is an excellent example of Van den Eeckhout’s later style. Particularly striking when compared with the earlier works are the virtually invisible brushstrokes and thinly applied paint, as well as the detailed manner in which for example the band of lace across her shoulders has been rendered. As the only surviving female portrait from this period, this beautifully preserved work occupies an important place in Van den Eeckhout’s oeuvre.