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  • 7/30/2019 Vanmieris Brochure


    a m o r o u s i n t r i g u e s a n d p a i n t e r l y r e f i n e m e n t

    Te Art o Frans van Mieris

    Naional Gallery o Ar, Washingon | February 26 May 21, 2006

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    Frans van Mieris he Eler (1635 1681) is one o he mos celebrae Duchfjnschilders

    ne painers whose elegan works o ar are isinguishe by meiculous brushwork,

    paricularly in he renering o maerials. Describe by his eacher Gerri Dou as he

    prince o all my pupils, Van Mieris achieve consierable ame in his lieime or his

    maserul echnique. Seveneenh-cenury collecors o his inimae genre scenes, por-rais, an allegorical works prize above all he heighene illusionism ha makes hese

    small painings so capivaing. Ye Van Mieris achieve more in his painings han jus

    he imiaion o naure: he was especially concerne wih human emoion an he way

    gures inerac wih one anoher. Many o his livelies works are lle wih eroic en-

    sions an ambiguous narraives, epicingoen in a humorous waysocial exchanges

    ha reece conemporary ieas abou he riuals o love, courship, an seucion.

    the artists life and career

    Frans van Mieris was born ino a amily o golsmihs in Leien on April 16, 1635. n he

    early 1650s, he raine wih Gerri Dou, he mos amous painer in Leien, beore suy-

    ing wih Abraham van en empel, a hisory an porrai painer who augh him how

    o rener he sheen o woven abrics. Van Mieris reurne o Dous suio shorly beore

    1655 an saye here unil joining he Leien painers Guil o Sain Luke in May 1658.

    He woul laer serve as he guils ean. His marriage o Cunera van er Cock in he

    spring o 1657 prouce our chilren, o whom he wo sons Jan an Willem becamepainers; his granson, Frans van Mieris he Younger, also earne his living as an aris.

    One o he larges an mos imporan Duch ciies, Leien owe is wealh o he

    manuacuring olaken, a ne cloh mae rom wool. n aiion, is isinguishe uni-

    versiy, he oles cener o learning in he Duch Republic, mae Leien a major cener

    o culure an scholarship. Arisic lie ourishe wih he presence o such painers as

    Rembran van Rijn (who live in he ciy unil 1631), he group ofjnschilders cenere

    aroun Rembrans suen Dou, an Jan Seen, wih whom Van Mieris was close

    riens. Asie rom heir share ineres in paining humorous genre scenes, he wo

    riens were repue o have spen much ime rinking ogeher in local averns.

    From he beginning o his career, Van Mieris oun a reay marke among Leiens

    auen ciizens. His remarkable skill in paining abric was perhaps all he more appre-

    ciae in a ciy o exile manuacurers. Ye Van Mieris repuaion quickly exene

    ar beyon he ciys borers. Among he ariss parons were oreign rulers, such as

    Gran Duke Cosimo e Meici III o Florence, who visie Van Mieris on a rip o he

    Neherlans in 1669, an Archuke Leopol Wilhelm, who rie o persuae he ariso become his cour painer in Vienna. Van Mieris business hrive in Leien, however,

    an he chose o remain in he ciy his enire lie. When he ie here in 1681, he was bur-

    ie in he Church o Sain Peer alongsie he ciys elie.

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    One o he bes examples o he ariss abiliy o capure he angible presence o maerials

    is he blue silk curain inA rompe lOeil with a Garland o Flowers and a Curtain, 1658 (fig. 2),

    which Van Mieris execue wih he ower specialis Ariaen van er Spel. (rompe loeilis a

    French erm ha means ool he eye.) Te curain, wih is sheen, ols, wrinkles, an gol-

    embroiere ege, is so real in appearance ha one coul imagine pulling i back o reveal heowers behin i. Van Mieris complee he illusion wih he careully renere curain ro an

    black rame. A he ime, curains were commonly hung in ron o painings o proec hem

    rom us an soo. Van Mieris, like oher ariss who employe his picorial rick, hereore

    was playing on viewers expecaions o seeing an acual curain suspene rom a ro aache

    o he rame.

    A rompe lOeil with a Garland o Flowers and a Curtain also recalls he amous sory o

    he arisic compeiion beween Zeuxis an Parrhasios, wo painers rom classical aniquiy.

    Zeuxis ha epice grapes so realisically ha birs rie o ea hem, bu Parrhasios paine a

    curain ha Zeuxis rie o pull asie. Zeuxis hus eclare Parrhasios he winner, or he cur-

    ain ha oole hima human being, an moreover an ariswhile Zeuxis grapes ha oole

    only birs. Quie appropriaely, even uring his lieime, Van Mieris was compare o boh

    Zeuxis an Parrhasios.

    fig. 2 Frans van Mieris an Ariaen van er Spel,A rompe lOeil with a Garland o Flowers

    and a Curtain, 1658, oil on panel, Te Ar nsiue o Chicago, Wir D. Walker Fun

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    van mieris as storyteller

    Like his eacher Dou, Van Mieris specialize in genre paining; mos o his works are narraive

    scenes rawn rom everyay lie. Tey epic a wie range o Duch sociey, rom quacks an

    peasans o ashionable young laies an soliers. Van Mieris emulae his amous eachers

    aenion o eail an avore similar subjec maer, bu he place a greaer emphasis on ell-

    ing sories an on he way gures relae o one oher. n Sending the Boy or Beer, c. 1655 1657

    (fig. 3), an elerly woman has pause rom scraping carros o han a coin o a boy o ge some

    beer, while he man nex o her laughingly reaches ino his ves, perhaps o pull ou money

    or his own share. Van Mieris meiculously epice he archiecural eaures an urnishings

    o a peasan inerior; he grouping o carros an kichenware in he lower righ corner is anespecially lovely passage. Warm ligh enering he room hrough he winows, however, raws

    aenion primarily o he hree gures. Te aris aecionaely ocuses on he easy ineracions

    o hese orinary people, lening he paining an inimae an slighly humorous characer.

    Amorous pursuis were among he mos popular genre subjecs o he seveneenh cenury.

    Brothel Scene, c. 1658 1659 (fig. 4), is one o Van Mieris livelies composiions, rich wih eroic

    implicaions. Wha appears a rs o be a charming scene o iraion beween a buxom mai

    fig. 3 Sending the Boy or Beer, c. 1655 1657, oil on panel,

    Saens Museum or Kuns, Copenhagen

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    an her jolly suior a an inn is in ac a epicion o a solier proposiioning a prosiue in a

    brohel, a seeming illusraion o he seveneenh-cenury Duch saying nn in ron, brohel

    behin. Te paining oers many visual clues o inerpre he naure o heir relaionship, such

    as he womans loosene boice, a secon couple seen beyon he oorway, linens hanging over

    a be above, an, mos conspicuous o all, a pair o copulaing ogs o he righ o he ofcer.By he en o he 1650s, Van Mieris began specializing in represenaions o he upper

    classes. Flauning his unparallele abiliy o pain abrics, he increasingly clohe his gures in

    colorul, expensive silks, sains, an velves. n Te Duet,1658 (fig. 5), a young woman in a

    lavish orange-re ress plays he harpsichor while accompanie by a man playing he lue. Te

    inerior is quie sumpuous, wih a large lanscape paining hanging on he wall, ornae archi-

    ecural eails on a monumenal oorway, a chanelier visible in he nex room, a parro (a he

    ime an exoic, precious bir), an he splenily ecorae harpsichor, whose makers name

    is announce in large leering above he keyboar.

    Te wo musicians are so absorbe in heir playing ha hey are unaware o an approaching

    servan. Here music acs as a meaphor or he harmony o wo people in love, a heme accenu-

    ae by he graceul an complemenary poses o he wo gures. Van Mieris rame hem wih

    fig. 4 Brothel Scene, c. 1658 1659, oil on panel,

    Royal Picure Gallery Maurishuis, Te Hague

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    a brigh blue chair in he righ oregroun an a ark curain in he upper le, creaing an ini-

    mae space or heir privae recial. ypical o Van Mieris, he illuminaion as o he rene-

    men o his scene: or insance, he ligh reecing o he womans sain ress an he curle

    shees o music.

    Van Mieris sophisicae unersaning o color, ligh, an composiion is paricularly

    evien in a maserpiece commonly known as Te Little Dog(cover). Te painings subjec

    is he playul relaionship beween an elegan young woman, who has jus nishe her morn-

    ing oile, an her pe spaniel. Much o he young womans eligh, he lile og respons o

    her gesure an sans on is hin legs, begging or a rewar. However innocen he scene may

    look, amorous connoaions are subly presen. Trough similar hemes escribe in emblem

    books (popular publicaions in which moralizing exs are accompanie by explanaory images),

    viewers o he ime woul have unersoo ha he playul game beween he lay an spanielparallels he game o love, whereby a misress eases her amirer by commaning him o o her

    will. Oher elemens in he paining woul have been equally suggesive o seveneenh-cenury

    viewers, such as he maiservan sraighening he be linens.

    fig. 5 Te Duet,1658, oil on panel,

    Saaliches Museum, Schwerin

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    van mieris painting technique

    Collecors oen pai azzling prices or Van Mieris painings, which, hough small in scale,

    oen ook hunres o hours o nish. o creae he enamel-like eec o his highly eaile

    picures, Van Mieris painsakingly use iny brushes o apply an moulae hin layers

    o pain so ha he brushsrokes became nearly invisible. His works were mae o be viewe

    up close where one coul marvel a he perecion o his echnique. Van Mieris occasionally

    worke on copper raher han woohis usual supporo enhance he smoohness o his

    painings surace.

    Wih his meiculous echnique, Van Mieris was able o pain maerials in an asonishingly

    realisic manner, a skill so highly regare by he Duch ha hey ha a wor or i: stouit-

    drukking(he renering o exures). nAn Old Soldier with a Pipe, c. 1655 1657 (fig. 1),or insance, he convincingly isinguishes among an array o maerials, rom he har, ligh-

    reecing meal breas plae o he so ur an eaher ha covering he soliers wavy hair.

    Alhough he paining is iny (no quie eigh inches high), Van Mieris has manage noneheless

    o rener he veins in he soliers hans, he grain o he wooen able an ankar, an he

    meal buckle clasping he mans leaher bel.

    fig. 1 An Old Soldier with a Pipe, c. 1655 1657, oil on panel,

    Allenown Ar Museum, Gi o Mrs. Eugene L. Garbay

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    portraitureAlhough known primarily or his genre scenes, Van Mieris was also a remarkable porrai

    painer, execuing over ory small-scale porrais hroughou his career. He complee several

    o his wie, incluing he ener Cunera van der Cock, the Artists Wie (fig. 6), c. 1657 1658.

    Van Mieris has capure her elicae eaureshe hin sraigh nose, rosebu lips, small

    chin, an pale skin in an inimae work ha was paine, probably aroun he ime o he

    couples marriage, as a companion piece o a sel-porrai o he aris. Originally oval in

    shape, he paining was laer expane o is presen orma, wih anoher aris compleing

    he ae areas.

    n conras o he personal porrayal o his wie, whose isincive eaures make her a

    recognizable iniviual, Van Mieris paine a number o iealize porrais o he wealhy

    ciizens o Leien. His polishe syle, so suie o he upper classes, became even more rene

    in he 1660s wih he arrival o a micenury vogue or imeless ieals o perecion an beauy

    ha ulimaely erive rom classical aniquiy. For example, Van Mieris occasionally use

    classically inspire seings o reec he high saus o his siers, such as he monumenal

    archiecure an marble sculpures in he backgroun oAgatha Paets, ae 1665 (fig. 7).One o he ariss nes an mos ambiious porrais, i porrays he wie o Leiens mayor

    resse ashionably in a silk gown wih ornae sleeves. Te smooh perecion o her creamy

    skin, he pleasing proporions o her eaures, an he elegance o her ormal pose sugges ha

    Van Mieris epice her o conorm o conemporary sanars o beauy. n her righ han she

    hols a peach. n Cesare Ripas Iconologia (1644), an inuenial hanbook in which absrac

    ieas are personie by allegorical gures, he peach reers o he hear an he peachs lea o

    fig. 7 Agatha Paets, 1665, oil on panel,

    Privae collecion, Unie Saes

    fig. 6 Cunera van der Cock,the Artists Wie,

    c. 1657 1658, oil on vellum (?)

    on panel, Te Naional Gallery, Lonon

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    he human ongue. Tus, in orer o speak he ruh, ones hear mus be aache o he ongue

    in he same way ha a peach is aache o he lea.

    Van Mieris was secon only o Rembran in he number o sel-porrais he execue, an

    one o his nes is he spleni 1667 Sel-Portrait(fig. 8). Here Van Mieris porrays himsel as

    a isinguishe genleman a he peak o his success. Prou o his proession, he aris is shownwih he ools o his rae: palee, brushes, an easel. Van Mieris leans on a balusrae in a pose

    similar o ha oun in several sel-porrais by ariss such as iian, Drer, an Rembran,

    an he comparison o his illusrious group was surely inene. Te pose also allowe Van

    Mieris o averise his exquisie renering o abrics, or he superbly paine sain o his sleeve

    caches he eye o he viewer even more han he ariss ace.

    allegories and history painting

    Van Mieris use his wie many imes as a moel in his genre scenes. She also serve as he

    moel or his allegorical Pictura he personicaion o he ar o paininga work rom

    1661 (fig. 9). Alhough slighly iealize, Cuneras characerisic eaures are recognizable.

    As Picura she is ienie by a number o aribues: a palee, brushes, an a golen chain

    wih a mask, or masks, like painings, imiae appearances in he naural worl. Te plaser

    cas o an anique sculpure in her arms is an explici reerence o an ancien ebae over which

    o he arspaining or sculpurewas beer able o re-creae realiy. Ta paining coul

    represen a sculpure convincingly was an asserion o is superioriy, or sculpure coul noo he reverse.

    fig. 8 Sel-Portrait, 1667, oil on panel,

    Te Naional rus, Polesen Lacey

    fig. 9 Te Art o Painting (Pictura), 1661,

    oil on copper, Te J. Paul Gey Museum, Los Angeles

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    Van Mieris pai grea aenion o he gures lusrous sain garmen, is surace seemingly

    shimmering in he ligh. He applie vibran hues o blue an pink o capure is ever-changing

    appearance. Te excepional richness o he glossy garmen sems rom he copper suppor

    an rom a hin layer o gol lea applie uner he pain. Van Mieris apparenly use gol lea

    in his way in a number o painings; i was an unusual echnique (hough one use a imes by

    Rembran) an inicaive o his iniial raining as a golsmih.

    Alhough Pictura is a rare example o allegorical paining or Van Mieris, some o his genre

    scenes likewise conain eeper meanings. Te elighul painingA Boy Blowing Bubbles, 1663

    (fig. 10), or insance, reers o more han jus a joyul pasime o chilhoo. Bubbles were asso-

    ciae wih he ransience o earhly lie, a meaning capure by he Lain expression Homo

    bulla (man is a bubble), ha he Duch philosopher Erasmus reinrouce in he sixeenh

    cenury. Like Pictura, A Boy Blowing Bubbles also may have been a visual argumen ha pain-ing coul imiae realiy beer han sculpure coul. Only a viruoso painer coul creae he

    highly illusionisic space o he winow rame an rener such ifcul maerial as soap bub-

    bles. Perhaps he mos ecepive elemen is he snail ha seems o crawl below he winow over

    he ae o he paining. Te curious coloring o he ower an vine leaves is ue o aging: over

    ime he yellow pigmen has broken own, leaving only he blue ha ha been mixe wih he

    yellow o make he original green.

    fig. 10 A Boy Blowing Bubbles, 1663, oil on panel,

    Royal Picure Gallery Maurishuis, Te Hague

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    n he las ecae o his career, Van Mieris execue a number o hisory pieces, he erm

    use o escribe scenes rawn rom he Bible or myhology. One o hem, Jeroboams Wie

    with the Prophet Ahijah (fig. 11), epics a biblical episoe rom he lie o sraels rs king,

    Jeroboam. Van Mieris chose o porray he momen when he blin prophe Ahijah ells he

    kings wie ha her son woul ie an he cour woul be esroye because o he kingspracice o iolary. Upon hearing he prophecy, she cluches a her hear. Van Mieris narraive

    syle became quie hearical a he en o his career, as seen here in he exaggerae gesures

    an expressions he use o convey he wies reacion o he horror o he prophecy.

    van mieris influence

    By he en o his shor lie, Van Mieris was amire as much or his rene echnique as or his

    careully consruce narraives. Many ariss respone o his work, among hem Jan Seen,

    Johannes Vermeer, an Gorie Schalcken (see gallery 13a), all o whom similarly paine

    sumpuously resse gures in elegan ineriors. Van Mieris impac on Duch arisic rai-

    ions exene well ino he early eigheenh cenury hrough he painings mae by his sons

    an granson. While his ar ell largely ou o avor a he en o he nineeenh cenury, appre-

    ciaion or i has recenly risen again, helping o reesablish Van Mieris as one o he eminen

    ariss o his ime.

    fig. 11 Jeroboams Wie with the Prophet Ahijah,

    1671, oil on panel, Palais es Beaux-Ars, Lille

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    Sunay, March 19, 6:30 p.m. in he Wes Garen Cour

    Te Egiius Kware, a vocal ensemble rom he

    Neherlans, perorms he music o ielman Susao

    an oher seveneenh-cenury Duch composers.

    Concers a he Naional Gallery o Ar are ree an

    open o he public. Amiance o he Wes Garen

    Cour is on a rs-come, rs-seae basis, beginning

    a 6:00 p.m.

    Lecture Programs

    February 26, 2:00 p.m., Eas Builing Auiorium

    Frans van Mieris: Te Artist and His Reputation

    Freerik J. Duparc, irecor, Royal Picure Gallery


    Courtship and Seduction in the Art o Frans van Mieris

    Arhur K. Wheelock Jr., curaor o norhern baroque

    painings, Naional Gallery o Ar

    Exhibition ours

    March 2, 3, 4, 7, an 9 a noon, Wes Builing

    Amorous Intrigues and Painterly Refnement: Te Art

    o Frans van Mieris (50 minues) le by Philip Leonar

    Free one-hour ours or groups o weny or more

    auls may be booke hree weeks in avance. Call

    (202) 842-6247.

    Film on Van Mieris

    A welve-minue inroucory lm abou Van Mieris

    ar is shown in he Micro Gallery in he Wes Buil-

    ing. is prouce by Bobca V or he Royal Picure

    Gallery Maurishuis an mae possible by Mr. an

    Mrs. Tomas S. Kaplan. In Dutch with English subtitles.

    cover:Te Little Dog(eail),c. 1660, oil on panel,Te Sae Hermiage Museum, S. Peersburg


    Te exhibiion is accompanie by a ully illusrae,

    256-page caalogue, Frans van Mieris 1635 1681,publishe by Waaners Publishers. Harcover $50.

    On the Web

    A lis o links o relae resources an aciviies is

    available a


    General Inormation

    Hours: Monay Sauray, 10:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

    Sunay 11:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.

    Gallery Web sie:

    For inormaion abou accessibiliy o gal leries an

    public areas, assisive lisening evices, sign-language

    inerpreaion, an oher services an programs,inquire a an Ar normaion Desk, consul he Web

    sie, or call (202) 842-6690 / tdd line (202) 842-6176.

    Amission o he Naional Gallery o Ar an all o is

    programs is ree o charge, excep as noe.

    Brochure written by Margaret Doyle, department of

    exhibition programs, and Jephta Dullaart, department

    of northern baroque paintings, and produced by the

    department of exhibition programs and the publishing

    ofce. Copyright 2006 Board of Trustees, National

    Gallery of Art, Washington

    This exhibition is organized by the Royal Picture

    Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, in association with the

    National Gallery of Art, Washington.

    The exhibition is made possible by anonymous donors

    to the National Gallery of Art.

    It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal

    Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

    This brochure was made possible by Sothebys, New

    York, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands,

    and the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, dc.