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Woman Holding a Dog in a Landscape

Jan van Mieris (Leiden 1660 – 1690 Rome)
ca. 1683–85
oil on panel
27 x 20.7 cm
inventory number

Aono, Junko. “Woman Holding a Dog in a Landscape” (2017). In The Leiden Collection Catalogue, 4th ed. Edited by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. and Elizabeth Nogrady with Caroline Van Cauwenberge. New York, 2023–. (accessed April 16, 2024).

An elegantly dressed woman stands in a dimly lit wooded landscape beneath a rose-colored evening sky. She gently embraces her lap dog while, with her right hand, gracefully fingering the thin, taupe scarf wrapped loosely around the low neckline of her dark, shimmering dress. As she gazes toward the left, her young face is partly shaded by her stylish red velvet beret, the lustrous, soft texture and subtle sheen of which the artist has rendered with special care.

This picture was formerly attributed to Jan’s father, Frans van Mieris the Elder (1635–81), whose later work displays similarly strong chiaroscuro effects and robust highlights. Jan van Mieris, who was apprenticed to his father along with his brother Willem, produced a number of genre pictures in his father’s manner during the early 1680s that are stylistically related to the present work. A similar woman, for example, appears in Woman Reading a Letter and Men Playing Tric-Trac beneath a Portico () and Training the Little Dog (ca. 1680). In each of these paintings, she strikes a comparable pose, with a frontal view of her upper body and her head turned to the right as she gazes somewhat downward, and she even holds her dog in an analogous manner. Particularly in the latter picture, the woman’s dress and the rendering of highlights are remarkably similar. Woman Holding a Dog in a Landscape was probably painted a few years later, when Jan van Mieris began to focus on single figures in the open air, as in, for example, his Smoking Man, dated 1685. In this painting he similarly situated his sitter before a wooded landscape with dimly lit trees silhouetting the evening sky.

The elegant manner in which the woman holds her scarf and her little dog reveals Van Mieris’s interest in classicism at this stage of his career. According to Van Gool, Frans the Elder initially considered sending Jan to Amsterdam to learn from Gerard de Lairesse (1640–1711), the leading classicist painter and art theorist, though ultimately he changed his mind. Although Jan never did study with Lairesse, he probably became involved in the circle of Amsterdam artists and art devotees who sympathized with Lairesse’s principles. Jan’s allegory, Minerva as Patron of the Arts, dated 1685, was in fact inspired by Lairesse’s prominent series of five allegories in grisaille the artist painted for the textile magnate Philips de Flines, who lived on the Herengracht in Amsterdam.

As he stated in his Groot schilderboek (1707), Lairesse believed that classical form and beauty were essential not only for history painting but also for the representation of everyday life. He wrote: “gracefulness,” which consists of the ideal form and proper proportions of the human body elevated in ancient sculptures, “must indispensably be perceived in modern representations.” Whether this gracefulness was successfully incorporated into the female figure in the picture or not, Jan van Mieris became increasingly keen to learn directly from works by ancient and modern artists in Italy, and he departed for that country in 1688. Unfortunately, he soon fell ill and died at the age of thirty, just a few years after he arrived in Rome.

- Junko Aono, 2017
  • Possibly Jan Six (1618–1700), Amsterdam.
  • Possibly Schrödering, Hamburg.
  • Gottfried Winckler (1731–95), Leipzig, by 1768.
  • [Newhouse Galleries, New York, inv. no. 16516, before 1987].
  • Private collection, Southern California (sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 15 October 1987, no. 26, as by Frans van Mieris the Younger [to a Midwest private collector]).
  • Private collection, United States (sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 8 June 2007, no. 203 [to Jack Kilgore & Co., Inc.]).
  • [Jack Kilgore & Co., Inc., New York].
  • From whom acquired by the present owner in 2007.
  • Krechauf, Franz Wilhelm. Historische Erklärungen der Gemälde, welche Herr Gottfried Winkler in Leipzig gesammlet. Leipzig, 1768, 175, no. 433, as by Frans van Mieris the Elder.
  • Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the  Seventeenth Century Based on the Work of John Smith. Edited and translated by Edward G. Hawke, 10: 87, no. 322, as by Frans van Mieris the Elder. 8 vols. London, 1907–18. Originally published as Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten höllandischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907–1928.
  • Naumann, Otto. Frans van Mieris (1635–1681) the Elder. 2 vols. Doornspijk, 1981, 2: 134–35, no. B20, fig. CB20, as possibly by Frans van Mieris the Younger.
  • Aono, Junko. Confronting the Golden Age: Imitation and Innovation in Dutch Genre Painting. Amsterdam, 2015, 177, no 2.
  • Van der Hut, Margreet. Jan van Mieris (1660-1690): His Life and Work. Zaandijk, 2021, 86–87, no. 27.

The support, a single plank of vertically grained, rectangular oak, has bevels on all four sides. The panel is unthinned and uncradled and has machine tool marks along the entire reverse. There is a remnant of a red wax seal, a black stencil, white chalk, and a handwritten inscription but no import stamps or panel maker’s marks.

A warm-colored ground has been thinly and evenly applied, and the paint has been applied in successive thin layers of transparent glazing. The contours of the figure’s flesh tones, red hat, drapery folds, white sleeve, and the white fur of the spaniel are slightly raised. The painting is in good condition with areas of thinness through the figure’s skirt and the landscape.

No underdrawing or compositional changes are readily apparent in infrared images captured at 780–1000 nanometers or in the X-radiograph.

The painting is unsigned and undated.

The painting underwent minor conservation treatment in 2007 and remains in a good state of preservation.

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