L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, December 23, 2016

Random families, random family portraits

A Family Portrait (Czechoslovakian), by Alois Spulak, circa 1840s.

I adore family portraits, the suave and the crude. I love how they tell us so much about the individual personalities and about the group dynamic. Or they don't; how many false narratives are memorialized in these spare or crowded compositions? And how is character - false or genuine - revealed? Are we more likely to find the truth in the work of a very accomplished artist, the one whose technique is completely secure, who has the ability to capture a likeness, to accurately describe space and surfaces? Or should we put more faith in the naïve or less skilled painter, whose real struggle just to get things right, might diminish the likelihood of gross flattery or any calculated revision of the way the family members relate to each other? With old portraits we rarely know much if anything about the true story of these family relationships. But it's "story" and "relationship" that come down to us, anyway. Whether truth or obfuscation, the stories of these nonetheless real people continue to play out, to reach out to us. In paint and in two dimensions.
Mr. and Mrs. James Blew and Their Three Children, attributed to Johan Zoffany and Studio, circa 1770s.
A Musician and His Family (thought to be composer Fernando Sor, his wife, and son), French School, circa 1810s.
Family Portrait, by Gillis van Tilborgh, circa 1665.
Family Portrait of a Merchant, Russian School, circa 1870s.
Everhard Jabach and His Family, by Charles Le Brun, circa 1660s.
Portrait of the Foerster Family, by Emil Foerster, circa 1856.
Portrait of Ferdinand Bergmüller and His Family, by Franz Schrotzberg, 1845.
The duc and duchesse d'Orléans and their children, French School, before 1842. (This odd little portrait is painted on tin.)
Madame Mercier Surrounded by Her Family, by Jacques Dumont, 1731.
Family Portrait (the artist, his wife, and two daughters, Feodor Petrovich Tolstoy, 1830.
Bloomsbury Family (the painter William Nicholson, his wife Mabel, and children), by William Orpen, 1907.
John Coakley Lettsom with His Family, in the Garden of Grove Hill, Camberwell, unknown artist, 1786.
Family Portrait, French or Italian School, circa 1800-1810.
Family Group (the artist and his family), by Frederick R. Spencer, 1840.
Franz von Lenbach mit Frau Lolo und den Töchtern Marion und Gabriele (the artist, his wife, and daughters), by Franz von Lenbach, 1903.
Joseph Moore and His Family, by Erastus Salisbury Field, 1839.
The Family of Sir Robert Vyner, by John Michael Wright, 1673.
The Bennett Family, by Samuel Woodforde, exhibited 1803. (Such an active family; the youngest has fallen asleep...!)
A Family Portrait in an Interior, by Francesco Pascucci, 1790.
The Comte de Chabaud-Latour and His Family, by Jacques-Luc Barbier-Walbonne, 1806.
My Uncle Daniel and His Family, by Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta, 1910.
Portrait of the Artist and His Family, Andries van Bochoven, 1629.
Gabriel Joseph de Froment, Baron de Castille, his wife Princess Hermine Aline Dorothée de Rohan, and family, unknown artist, before 1825.
The Imperial Family of Japan, unknown artist, 1900.
Baron Cerrini with his Family, by Johann Fischbach, 1832.
The Family of the Painter Adalbert Trillhaase, by Otto Dix, 1923.
David George van Lennep and Family, by Antoine de Favray, circa 1769-71.


  1. The von Lenbachs would appear to have been caught unawares in the midst of something unspeakable. Something about which the Trillhaases are perfectly appalled...

  2. Otto Dix seems quite restrained compared to some of these groups. Love the Nicholson family.

    1. Haha! I think we caught Otto in an unusually gentle mood. ; )