Dutch museum acquires portrait of 17th century princess

Amalia van Solms portrait by Honthorst

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

Het Loo museum acquires portrait of Amalia of Solms

Palace Het Loo has recently purchased a double portrait by Gerard van Honthorst. It depicts the wife of Stadholder Frederik Hendrik, Amalia of Solms, with a cousin.

The curator of the museum says it it is special that specifically this Honthorst could be purchased. “His portraits of the Orange dynasty are rare on the market,” says curator Hanna Klarenbeek. …

The portrait, in which Princess Von Solms is depicted as hunting goddess Diana and her cousin Charlotte de la Trémoïlle [countess of Derby in England] as [the Roman goddess of agriculture] Ceres, was ordered in 1632 from Honthorst, the favourite painter of the Orange dynasty.

In The Netherlands, there was no monarchical court like in most other European countries then.

There was only the Stadhouder‘s court.

Which would have liked very much to be a princely court like elsewhere in Europe; but constitutionally wasn’t.

Rembrandt got a commission from the princely court (princely, as the Stadhouders were also absolute monarchs in the tiny statelet of Orange in southern France).

But when his portrait of Princess Amalia von Solms, wife of Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik, turned out to be not flattering enough, his relationship to that court deteriorated.

A Hermitage Amsterdam exhibition notes that Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik prefered painters from the feudal southern Netherlands (now: Belgium), though that region was the military enemy, to “bourgeois” northern painters like Rembrandt. He also prefered Gerard van Honthorst to Rembrandt as a painter of portraits of his wife. Honthorst was not from the Spanish occupied southern Netherlands. However, his home province Utrecht in the central Netherlands was less bourgeois rebellious than Rembrandt’s Holland. And Honthorst had spent much time in feudal Italy.

It hung for years in the princely hunting lodge Honselaarsdijk House in South Holland.

It disappeared around 1795 from the stadholders’ art collection and according to Het Loo for decades it was gone without a trace. In 1951 it surfaced at an auction in London, and then it disappeared again into a private collection. …

The museum plans to hang the work in the bedchamber of Mary II [wife of King of England and Stadholder of Holland Willem III], because there guests were received, as in the original room where the portrait hung in Honselaarsdijk House.

Klarenbeek: “With this painting we can not only show visitors in what showy splendor Amalia and Frederik Hendrik had themselves depicted. They also demonstrate the value which William and Mary attributed to these portraits of their ancestors, by giving them prominent spots in their palaces.”

2 thoughts on “Dutch museum acquires portrait of 17th century princess

  1. Pingback: J.M.W. Turner art exhibition in Canada | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Rembrandt exhibition on film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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