June 8, 2011

Gerard Ter Borch "Burgomaster Jan van Duren"

Nationality: Dutch
Born/Died: 1617–1681

Creation Date:
c. 1666–67
Size: 32.125 x 25.8125 in. (81.5 x 65.5 cm)
Media: Oil on canvas
Location: The Metropolitan Museum, New York City, USA

At first glance this painting seems to be yet another extremely austere Dutch painting from the 17th century--in fact it seems to be one of the most austere portraits I have ever seen. The simply-dressed man stands proudly in an unusually empty, gray interior with only a simple table, but there are subtle reminders his wealth as well. For instance, the lush edge of the table-cloth and the man's extremely sharp and fancy shoes are like a shy, cautious display of wealth and they demonstrate, albeit quietly, the value that the commissioner or the artist had for material wealth.

I'd like to mention on a note unrelated to art and aesthetics that this display of the valuing of material wealth should not be seen as a negative--material wealth consists of products we designed in order to bring joy and comfort to our lives. It would certainly be hypocritical to condemn those who value the products that wealth can provide while appreciating works of art!

All photos taken by me.

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