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Work Southern Seaport with Trinket Seller

Department of Paintings: Dutch painting

Southern Seaport with a Trinket Seller

© 2005 RMN / Thierry Le Mage

Paintings
Dutch painting

Author(s):
Collange Adeline

A rather harsh comedy of manners (the courting couple is mirrored by an ironic pair: the dog and turkey). The Oriental or Italian-style seaport provides a highly exotic setting, to which the sculpted group of Hercules and Cacus in the background adds a pleasant touch of antique culture.

An imaginary seaport

The scene takes place in a southern port bathed in warm light. Jan Weenix was profoundly influenced by the Italianate art of his father - and master - Jan Baptist Weenix. This explains the golden tonalities of this port with its Venetian atmosphere, reminiscent of the art of Claude Gellée or Herman van Swanevelt. But this particular Italy is the fruit of the artist's imagination, and is designed to his liking: a touch of colorful exoticism with the Orientals and gondolas, the splendor of the heavy ships, an antique note with the statues (Hercules and Cacus overlooking the port, an allegory of trade in the foreground), and a glimpse inside the palatial structure on the right. The surprising still life in the foreground with its fruit and small game evokes Jan Weenix's talent for hunting trophies, an art he learned from his uncle, Gysbert d' Hondecoeter.

An amusing scene

Despite the subtle luminosity that bathes the entire painting, the characters seem to be on a theater stage, with the imaginary landscape as the backdrop for a light comedy. An ungainly little trinket seller in a ridiculous outfit (whose grotesque appearance evokes the characters of the Commedia dell' Arte) offers his wares to a rouged and powdered couple. The gentleman encourages his lady friend to take a look; she feigns indifference to these gaudy trinkets, but her eyes tell another story. The play between the little boy and the lapdog barking at the turkey in the foreground seems to be the painter's way of mocking the hypocrisy of this behavior: the turkey's rather stiff pose recalls the lady's haughty attitude - a not so flattering parallel that serves to denounce her vanity.

Theater and exoticism: the emergence of rococo

At the dawn of the eighteenth century, Jan Weenix's flavorsome composition plays on the blend of several genres, albeit with a certain artificiality: the poetic and luminous landscape, the cultured reference to antique sculpture, the still life, the Orientalizing exoticism, and the genre scene combining romantic and animal imagery. In many ways, this theatrical fantasy heralded the end of the Golden Century and the advent of the graceful developments of rococo.

Bibliography

Exposition du Bicentenaire du musée du Louvre : les peintures du Louvre, des collections royales au Grand Louvre, Musée d'art de Yokohama, n 38, p. 303.

Technical description

  • Jan WEENIX (Amsterdam, 1642 - Amsterdam, 1719)

    Southern Seaport with a Trinket Seller

    1704

  • H. 1.17 m; W. 1.39 m

  • Collection of the stadholder, The Hague: painting transferred to the Louvre, 1795

    INV. 1938

  • Paintings

    Richelieu wing
    2nd floor
    Holland, second half of the 17th century
    Room 39

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Additional information about the work

Signed and dated J. WEENIX 1704