The orange colour must mean this is a portrait of a small Prince of Orange. Stylistically it is typical of Friesland. The type of hat that this young, probably two years old child is wearing was in fashion during the 1640s-50s and 60s. The only son born to the local Stadtholder Willem Frederik was his successor, Hendrik Casimir II (1657 – 1696).
These coarse, naïve Frisian portraits are very sought after.
About our painting
Seeing the typical naivety with which this Dutch portrait (hence the orange tonalities) was painted, one has to look for its author in Friesland (Frisia), that is the northernmost part of Holland. A fair number of these “naive” portrait painters were active in that region in the 17th century, next to more famous and better trained colleagues as Wybrand de Geest, Harmen Willems Wieringa and Jan Jansz. de Stomme.
When looking at our portrait one can think of such painters as Jelle Sibrandsz. (Sneek, 1642/43 – after 1697, ?), who painted a similar boy as Cupid.
The short stature of our boy, typical of course of his age, reminds also of the right boy in a portrait of two boys at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam by Douwe Juwes de Dowe (Leeuwarden, 1608 – before 1663, ?). That boy was portrayed as St John Baptist.
Other Frisian portrait painters that come to mind are Jan Bredael (Amsterdam 1625 – 1682 Leeuwarden) and Philippus van Campen (Leeuwarden, circa 1610 – after 1660, ?).
The type of hat that this young, probably two years old child is wearing was in fashion in the 1640s-50s and 60s. During that period Willem Frederik, Prince of Nassau-Dietz (Arhem 1613 – 1664 Leeuwarden) was Stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe. He and his wife Albertine Agnes van Nassau had two children: a girl Amalia (1655 – 1695) and a boy Hendrik (Henry) Casimir II (1657 – 1696). It could therefore be that both the portrait by Jelle Sibrandsz. and our portrait represent the young prince Hendrik Casimir II (1657 – 1696), who was to succeed his father as stadtholder in 1664. As he was then only seven years old he was placed under guardianship of his mother. There are clearly physical similarities between our portrait and the Oranienburg portrait of Hendrick Casimir II painted around the age of 10/13 years old: the large eyes, the form of the mouth and of the chin.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because its touching naivety and coarse directness has made this type of 17th century portraits very sought after.
Because it might represent Prince Hendrik Casimir II.