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David’s Notes: Portrait of a Young Girl with Carnation

January 20th, 2010

Portrait of a Young Girl with Carnation, Jan Albertsz Rotius, 1663

Could this be an engagement portrait of a Dutch girl aged four? Her ring, the carnations, the fan, and the peacock all refer to love and marriage. Only upper class marriages were arranged at such a tender age and this girl, with her expensive silk clothes and jewelry, was clearly from a well to do family.

In the 1600s, rich Dutch girls attended school to learn reading, writing, religion, music, dance and French. Instead of going to university – which was forbidden – they went to Paris to absorb fashionable French culture first hand. At an early age, poor girls stopped school to work full time.

Jan Albertsz Rotius
(Dutch, 1624–1666)
Portrait of a Young Girl with Carnations
oil on canvas
118.1 x 96.5 cm
Art Gallery of Ontario,
Gift of Miss L. Aileen Larkin 1945
© 2007 Art Gallery of Ontario

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