Petronella Elias (1648–1667) with a Basket of Fruit
Ferdinand Bol (Dutch, Dordrecht 1616–1680 Amsterdam)
Oil on canvas
31 5/8 x 26 in. (80.3 x 66 cm)
Purchase, George T. Delacorte Jr. Gift, 1957
Not on view
Bol was a pupil of Rembrandt in the late 1630s, and followed his teacher's style until the middle of the century. During the 1650s Bol became established in Amsterdam society, enjoyed considerable success as a portraitist and history painter, and adopted a more colorful, fluid, and Flemish style. The elaborate silver basket in the present picture appears again in a double portrait of 1661 in Antwerp.
Bol was a highly successful artist in Amsterdam, but like several slightly later pupils and followers of Rembrandt he came from the South Holland city of Dordrecht. His teacher there is not named in documents, but Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp (1594–1651/52), father of Aelbert Cuyp (1620–1691) and the most prominent painter in Dordrecht at the time, is a likely candidate. Bol probably went to study with Rembrandt in Amsterdam in about 1636, and he appears to have remained with him until about 1641. Like Rembrandt, Bol specialized in portraits and history pictures.
Petronella Elias, identified by Ekkart in 2002, was the daughter of Joost Pietersz Elias (1622–1694), a merchant, and his first wife, Rebecca Spiegel (1626–1651), who was a first cousin of Bol's wife, Elisabeth Dell. Petronella married her mother's cousin (and Bol's brother-in-law), Gerard Elbertsz Dell (1644–1688), in May 1666, and died eight months later. Although the sitter's father long outlived his daughter and her mother, the portrait descended in the latter's family, and may have been commissioned by Petronella's maternal grandfather, Elbert Spiegel (1600–1674), or her aunt Elisabeth Spiegel (1628–1707), the eldest of her mother's four sisters.
This work is similar in composition to three portraits in a series of five, commissioned by Elbert Spiegel from Amsterdam painter Dirck Santvoort, representing Elbert's daughters with attributes of the Five Senses. It is especially close to the portrait of Petronella's mother (private collection), also depicted with fruit, in the role of Taste. In Petronella's portrait, however, the motif of fruit—common in Dutch portraits of children—was likely intended to suggest that she is the product of a fruitful marriage.
Raimond Slicher (1752–1807), son of Wigbold Slicher and probable compiler of his father's inventory (1783), was an amateur artist who made small pastel copies of this work (1781; private collection) and other Slicher family portraits.
The painting was engraved by Edward Smith (see Cunningham 1834).
[2010; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): FBol [initials in monogram] / 1657
?Wigbold Slicher and his wife, Elisabeth Spiegel, the sitter's aunt, Amsterdam (until his d. 1718); ?their son, Antonis Slicher (1718–d. 1745); ?his son, Hieronymus Slicher (1745–d. 1755); his son, Wigbold Slicher, The Hague (1755–d. 1790; inv., 1783, no. 16); ?his widow, Dina Henriette Backer (1790–d. 1801); ?Slicher's eldest son, Jan Slicher, The Hague (1801–d. 1815); ?his unmarried sister, Anna Catharina Slicher (1815–d. 1827); Robert Ludgate, London (by 1834–at least 1835); the Bunbury family, Barton Hall, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk; [Scott & Fowles, New York]; Miss Mary Hanna, Cincinnati; [Knoedler, New York, in 1929]; Mrs. Joseph Heine, formerly Mrs. I. D. Levy, New York (until 1944; her sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, November 25, 1944, no. 261, for $7,000); Sydney J. Lamon, New York; [Knoedler, New York, until 1957; sold to MMA]
Milwaukee Art Museum. "Rembrandt's Students II: Ferdinand Bol," December 20, 1991–March 8, 1992, checklist no. 3.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
Raimond Slicher. Familieportretten berustende bij Mr Wigbold Slicher, president van den hove van Holland Anno 1783. 1783, no. 16 [published in Ref. Ekkart 2002].
Allan Cunningham. The Cabinet Gallery of Pictures by the First Masters of the English and Foreign Schools. London, 1834, vol. 1, pp. 65–70, ill. opp. p. 65 (engraving), as "Dutch Lady with Fruit," in the collection of Robert Ludgate; publishes Smith's engraving.
Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. Vol. 1, Vienna, 1906, p. 128, as a half-length picture of a young woman holding fruit, in the collection of R. Ludgate in 1835.
Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. Vol. 3, Vienna, 1911, p. 32, as a half-length picture of a young woman holding a basket of flowers, in the collection of Robert Ludgate in 1834.
"Mrs. Joseph Heine Sale: French Art Starred." Art News 43 (November 15–30, 1944), p. 30, ill., as in the forthcoming Heine sale of November 24–25, 1944, at Parke-Bernet.
"Additions to the Collections." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (October 1957), p. 63.
The Toledo Museum of Art: European Paintings. Toledo, 1976, p. 25, compares it with Bol's "The Huntsman" as a portrait set outdoors.
Albert Blankert. Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): een leerling van Rembrandt. PhD diss., Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht. The Hague, 1976, pp. 250, 270, no. A 143 [revised in Ref. Blankert 1982], notes the repetition of the metal dish in a double portrait of 1661 (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp).
Albert Blankert. Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt's Pupil. Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1982, pp. 143–44, 153, no. 142, pl. 153.
Werner Sumowski. Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler. Vol. 1, J. A. Backer–A. van Dijck. Landau/Pfalz, 1983–[94?], p. 313, no. 172, ill. p. 411, notes that the meaning of the basket of fruit has not yet been explained.
Walter Liedtke inRembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, "Paintings, Drawings, and Prints: Art-Historical Perspectives."New York, , p. 141, under no. 43, notes that no trace of Rembrandt's style remains.
Rudolf E. O. Ekkart. "A 'portrait historié' with Venus, Paris and Cupid: Ferdinand Bol and the patronage of the Spiegel family." Simiolus 29, no. 1/2 (2002), pp. 24, 26–27, 35, no. S16, fig. 17, publishes the Slicher inventory of 1783; identifies the sitter, based on Raimond Slicher's pastel copy (1781; private collection) after this picture; considers the basket of fruit a reference to Dirck Santvoort's portrait of the sitter's mother (present whereabouts unknown).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 49–52, no. 11, colorpl. 11.
Dagmar Hirschfelder. Tronie und Porträt in der niederländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 2008, pp. 280, 304 n. 228, p. 402, no. 61, pl. 11.