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Family Portrait, c. 1670-75

Jacob Ochtervelt
Dutch, 1634-1682
Oil on canvas
36-1/8 x 31-1/8 in. (91.8 x 79.1 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Jacob Ochtervelt was a leading painter of genre scenes and family portraits. He worked in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, both centers of international commerce, evidenced in the goods displayed in the domestic interiors he depicted. In this ensemble, Ochtervelt’s energetic brushstrokes enliven the satin and brocade gowns of the mother and daughter, breaking with the somber tone favored by Maes’s family group at left. The father wears a kimono of rich fabric, which alludes to the family’s mercantile connections, as does the Anatolian carpet behind the woman. Despite the parents’ dignified expressions, the grouping has an air of spontaneity, particularly in the figure of the young girl rushing into the room, her flowing dress creating dynamic diagonal lines that counteract the staid vertical poses of the adults. The leaping dog, a common attribute of children, symbolizes playfulness and learning, and references the informality of everyday life.

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