Collection Online

Mother and child

oil on wood panel
123.4 × 92.8 cm
inscribed in brown paint u.l.: ATATIS SvA. 24 ~ / ANNO. 1624 ~
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Alan and Mavourneen Cowen, Andrew Sisson, an anonymous donor and donors to the Cornelis de Vos Appeal, 2009
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

As a young man, Cornelis de Vos worked with the most important Flemish artists of his time, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens, and he quickly absorbed many of their innovative qualities. So precocious was his talent that by the age of twenty, de Vos had mastered formal portraiture. Van Dyck went to England around 1620, and Rubens was often away from Antwerp. In their absence, de Vos assumed the mantle of the most prominent portrait painter in that city. This work of 1624 has the vigour and accomplishment of a mature artist at the height of his powers. Here de Vos has sensitively captured the informality in the relationship between the mother and her child; this refreshingly modern approach is regarded as the particular achievement of Flemish artists. De Vos’s clientele were the wealthiest burghers of Antwerp, who eagerly sought portraits of their family members. At this time of religious conflict, Antwerp remained a staunchly Catholic city, and the richness of the dress and the prominence of the crucifix on the mother’s chest attest to this. The picture offers a fascinating contrast to the fine Dutch portrait of a woman from the 1640s, which is distinguished for its austerity.

Frame: Reproduction, 2010, based on early 17th century Netherlandish frames