Family Portrait

This picture came up for sale at Christies in London in 2011, and is described as “Family portrait, small three-quarter-length, in black, red and white dress”. It has scant provenance, and in fact is inscribed on the frame with a story of how it turned up: ‘This oil painting washed ashore at Rottingdean with other wreckage from the Australian ship “Simla”,: Run down by the ship City of Lucknow, Feb 25th 1884’. It’s a lovely picture of a typical family from the seventeenth century and has the look of those Dutch master paintings of ordinary folk that hardly ever turn up in portraits by English artists

The people in the picture are dressed in clothes that place the time of the picture in the 1640s or thereabouts, and seem to be as described, a family group. They mostly look at us from the picture, though the three figures on the right look across the picture at the eldest member of the family.  He is presumably the grandfather of the family and is dressed in a gown and ruff collar with a lace edged day cap. The husband and wife (I imagine) are in their best blacks. The wife with a neat plain layered kerchief and a black hood over hers (perhaps this refers to a lost child), whilst the man of the house is in a plain black doublet and a neat falling band. If you look closely though, he has left the lower buttons unfastened so you can see his shirt. The three children are all dressed in petticoats and aprons and there is no way to tell if they are boys or girls from what they are wearing. The seventh figure  is partly hidden by an open door and seems to be wearing a red waistcoat over petticoat skirts and an apron and kerchief.

Family portrait, small three-quarter-length, in black, red and white dress

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