The short-lived Joris Vekemans (1590-1625) was a wealthy Antwerp businessman. He had himself and his family portrayed in six paintings. Five of these can be seen in the museum.

 

Who is who?

The portraits belong together in twos: Joris and his wife Maria form one pair. Maria survived her husband by forty years. Then there are the children: the four- or five-year-old Frans and his sisters Elisabeth and Cornelia. Jan is the elder son. The second girl went with Jan, but that work is not in the museum’s collection. The subjects in each pair of portraits adopt the same pose. The backgrounds match and the painter used a similar palette.

 

Portrait of a girl

Take a look at the portrait of Elisabeth Vekemans, or of her sister Cornelia. The latter looks at us, proudly and shyly at the same time. She must be about eight years old, and is shown full-length and life-size; this is very unusual for a child portrait. The background shows that the work is unfinished, and her stylish dress is also painted slightly cursorily. This is probably because the father, Joris, who commissioned the works, died in 1625 when the painter was still busy. Elisabeth would die three years later; she was eleven at the time.

 

Cornelis de Vos

Cornelis de Vos was no ordinary painter: he worked with Rubens and other artists, but above all was one of Antwerp’s most famous portrait painters, including of children. De Vos even became master of the professional association of artists, the Guild of St Luke.

 

Specifications

  • Cornelis de Vos (1584-1651)
  • Portraits of the Vekemans Family, ca. 1625
  • Oil on panel, 123 x 86, 93 and 79 cm