Love in the Dutch Golden Age

 

Portrait of a Couple, Franz Hals, c. 1622, Amsterdam Rijskmuseum

Portrait of a Couple, Franz Hals, c. 1622, Amsterdam Rijskmuseum

This happy couple posed for the great Dutch portrait artist Franz Hals in around 1622. They were married in April of that year.  They seem completely at ease with each other, and they exude the joy of love. They are believed to be Isaac Abrahamz Massa and Beatrix van der Laen.  The relaxed pose was unusual at a time when portraits were serious business.  However, Hals was known to break conventional norms all the time in order to show the true humanity of his subjects.  And these people were known to be friends of the artist.

Hals included references to love and marriage:  a garden of love to the right, and to the left an eryngium thistle.  This plant was a symbol of male fidelity. (Let’s hope Isaac took the symbol to heart).  I’d like to think these two joyful people enjoyed a long and happy marriage. Happy Valentine’s Day, Isaac and Beatrix!

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