Godfried Schalcken was trained by two pupils of Rembrandt: firstly van Hoogstraten, and then Gerrit Dou, who considerably influenced his style. The technical perfection of Schalcken’s Self-portrait and the portrait of his wife, the "Portrait of Françoise van Diemen" (GE 588), follow Dou’s model. In these paintings, which are on copper and in very good condition, the fashionable silks, brocades and Venetian lace are portrayed in loving and meticulous detail. The couple’s elegant attire and pose, and the distinguished setting lend the portraits a noble aura. As the hand-on-heart gesture is associated with marriage vows, this double portrait was probably painted for the couple’s wedding in 1679. The works of art in the background of these portraits testify to the moral standards that seventeenth-century Dutch society applied to marriage. Hanging behind Schalcken is a painting of a sleeping Venus, seen by his contemporaries as a motif symbolizing suppressed sexual desire. Similarly, his wife’s portrait shows a sculpture of the virgin goddess Diana, who in images of married women symbolized chastity. For modern viewers, the portrait thus acquires the value of a sociological study.
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Godfried Schalcken
Self-Portrait, 1679
Oil on copper
height 43 cm, width 32 cm
Signed bottom right: G. schalcken
Inv.-No. GE584
Provenance: 1821 acquired with the Portrait of Françoise van Diemen (GE 588) by Prince Johann I von Liechtenstein from the art dealer Huybens in Vienna
Further works on display
Portrait of Françoise van Diemen, 1679
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