Jan Mytens

Family Group by an Ornamental Fountain in a Pastoral Landscape

Family Group by an Ornamental Fountain in a Pastoral Landscape by Jan Mytens

Artwork Detail

Like many of his contemporaries, Dutch artist Jan Mytens was influenced by the works of Sir Anthony van Dyck. He painted a number of family portraits using a pastoral landscape as a setting. Many rich citizens of The Hague, where he was based, chose to have themselves portrayed in this way, reflecting the growing rise of wealthy estates, where townspeople could withdraw in the summer months, engaging in pleasurable activities, such as hunting, riding and entertaining. Rather than their own flat and often damp horizons, however, Mytens shows them at ease in an Italianate landscape, reflecting the influence of pastoral literature at the time. Sunlit Arcadian meadows peopled by frolicking nymphs and satyrs, or tumbling cupids suggested peace and harmony. Rather than the formal costume associated with the 16th century, the family are depicted in flowing, timeless costumes, only their hairstyles, jewellery and the little girl’s feathered cap reflecting the real fashions of the time. The older girl rests her hand on a dolphin fountain, a further symbol of love, a device made popular by Van Dyck in marriage portraits. As well as his pretty daughters, the gentleman has the all-important heir to his fortune, whose semi-naked state attests to his gender.

Family Group by an Ornamental Fountain in a Pastoral Landscape
Jan Mytens
Production date
oil on canvas
1607 x 1870 x 115 mm
Credit line
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased with assistance from the M A Serra Trust, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2014
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
On display

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