In May of 1630, the exiled Queen of Bohemia, Elizabeth Stuart, sent a large painting to her brother, King Charles I of England. The work, a now-lost family portrait known since 1966 as Seladon and Astraea, was completed by the Dutch artist Gerrit van Honthorst. That this painting took Honoré d’Urfé’s pastoral romance L’Astrée as its source material has been proposed since the 1960s. This article argues for L’Astrée as an important part of Elizabeth and her husband’s self-identity in exile, and for Honthorst’s painting as a vital and overlooked token of friendship between both Elizabeth and her husband and Elizabeth and her brother. Drawing on early modern and ancient theorizations of friendship, kinship, and marriage as well as Elizabeth, Charles, and her husband Frederick’s letters, this article places Honthorst’s painting at the center of a complex network of reciprocal affection, political machinations, and court culture in the seventeenth century.
Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434) has been a battleground of interpretation ever since Erwin Panofsky’s landmark 1934 essay on the painting. This article does not seek to resolve the uncertainties that remain concerning the names of the portrait’s subjects or the function that it served. Instead, it proposes to understand the relationship that the painting establishes between itself and its viewers, and to do so by considering the role of the canine companion at the couple’s feet. The dog in The Arnolfini Portrait is not only fundamental to the fellowship that Van Eyck invites us to feel both with himself and with his work; the dog’s role within the picture also nuances our understanding of Van Eyck’s own self-awareness as an artist and signals an opportunity to reconsider the limitations of traditional art-historical method.
During his time in England as the lead court artist, Anthony van Dyck came into contact with the English Virtuosi, their discourses and their practical research into nature. This article examines the connection between English virtuosity and ideal ideas of friendship and the role that the artist played in this. Argueing that Van Dyck was part of a friendly circle of said Virtuosi and reconstructing that circle on a small scale, it discusses the famous double portrait of Van Dyck and Endymion Porter as a portrait of friendship as well as a product of the symbiotic culture of friendship and English virtuosity and the making of knowledge that springs from it.
The affinity between the landscape painter Wu Li and François de Rougemont, a Jesuit missionary based in Changshu, is a rare example of friendship between a Chinese and a European in the seventeenth century. Their encounter, which seemingly resulted in the first Chinese painting partly dedicated to a European, evidences the role of the visual arts as a social lubricant. These arts included engravings imported from the Netherlands, works produced in China, and Sino-European co-productions. Aspects of patronage of Christian art in provincial China of the early Qing period come into closer view as well as, conversely, the Chinese view towards European art. Both men studied each other’s ideological background (respectively Confucianism and Catholicism) and their careful exchange oscillated between transactional strategy, cross-cultural curiosity, and, perhaps, affection.
In this article, the central issue is the interaction between Sandrart’s friendship networks, his art production and success in Amsterdam. His famous literary life’s work the Teutsche Academie, and Lebenslauf, his (auto) biography, will also be involved. Sandrart’s stay in Amsterdam (1637-1645) was the true springboard for his career. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, he immediately positioned himself in the network of influential entrepreneurs, connoisseurs and magistrates by moving into a patrician residence on the Keizersgracht. Sandrart’s wealthy bloedvrienden (family members) with important socio-political networks - the banker Johan de Neufville and the artist-agent Michel le Blon - further brokered easy access to the bourgeois elite network, which soon earned the aristocratic painter many important commissions. In the late 1630s and early 1640s, Sandrart was a pioneer in his use of the Van Dyckian way of portraying and a classicist Italian style in history painting. Although it took a further ten years before the change of style towards academism became definite in Amsterdam, Sandrart had been the artistic leader thereof. Moreover, he launched a new artists image and artistic lifestyle by positioning himself as the aristocratic-artist.