Frans Floris

9 09 2008

This painting, by Frans Floris, is called The Elderly Woman or sometimes The Falconer’s Wife. I lifted this image from an art website that indicates it was painted in 1558, though I think it was more likely 1658. But that’s not the point. Look at her face, very matter of fact with just a hint of a wry smile. I think she’s seen alot of life, so much so that it’s more amusing than dramatic. Judging from that midsection, I’ll bet she was fond of her beer as well.

What I really love is her hand around the dog’s head. He’s her friend and companion, so of course he would be included in her portrait. I think pet dogs were often included in portraits as an indication of prosperity and domestic comfort, though I’m making an educated guess there. But I think this mutt was included because he rarely left his mistress’ side. And what wonderful hands she has. They’ve held new babies and comforted the dying, done fine needlework, lifted sweaty pitchers of cold beer and always made time to give the dog an affectionate pat.

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2 responses

9 09 2008
foghorn

Yes, dogs as emblems of happy domesticity. See, e.g., the family pictures of Jan Steen (ignoring, of course, the injunctions painted therein).

She isn’t wearing a ring. Did 16th century Flemings wear wedding rings?

She also isn’t wearing quite the fancy collar that some of Hals’ women wore during the 17th c: perhaps though falconers worked for wealthy people, they themselves were not wealthy, and their wives’ dress and general adornment was more modest.

Note: even Carl Icahn said “If you want a friend, buy a dog.”

9 09 2008
Deb

There’s something quite tenderhearted about many Dutch paintings. Not necessary Hieronymus Bosch (though some of those odd little egglike critters have an ET-ish adorability to them), but in so many Dutch portraits, in particular, you get the sense that the painter loved his subjects’ humanity.

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