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Dirck Van Der Wissel and His Son Jacob (Portrait of a Gentleman and His Son)

Dirck Van Der Wissel and His Son Jacob (Portrait of a Gentleman and His Son), 1631

Thomas de Keyser
Dutch, 1596/7-1667
Oil on panel
25-1/8 x 19-1/4 in. (63.8 x 48.9 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

In this double portrait of father and son, de Keyser emphasizes the former's role as parent. The rhetorical gestures of the two figures suggest that the painting originally hung with a pendant. Following convention, the pendant would have portrayed the female members of the family with corresponding gestures. The coat of arms above the door identifies the subjects as the merchant Dirk van der Wessel and his seven-year-old son, Jacob.

As a portraitist, de Keyser astutely transformed the monumental scale of court portraiture into the small cabinet painting, appropriate for Dutch homes. He retained, however, the important attributes attached to the tradition of court portraiture, such as the full-length format of the sitters. His skillful descriptions of the silk and satin costumes, the walls of the room, covered with costly gilt leather and the rich cushions on the chair indicate the subjects' wealth and high social position.

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