Jan Molenaer


Oil on canvas, 101 x 152 cm
Signed lower left: JMolenaer 1640 (JM bound)

The famous Dutch artist of the 17th century Jan Minse Molenaar used in his painting the motifs and techniques of the “genre portrait” of his teacher, the great Dutch portrait painter Frans Hals. However, he turned a genre, group portrait into a special type of entertaining picture, reproducing not so much the real life of Dutch society as a funny, fictional situation. In a painterly manner, Jan Minse Molenaar departed from his teacher and used the style of Dutch tonal painting created in Haarlem. In the unified, carefully harmonized tone of the picture, the main characters of the plot stand out with a slight contrast of color and light. Unlike Hals with his sharp, abrupt stroke, Molenaar’s stroke is soft, fused, formative, it is subordinated to the task of creating a picture “for viewing.”

Apparently, the plot of the film is connected with the then pressing problem of the complex relationship between Dutch society and the Gypsy people. The artist ironizes the innocence of the Dutch peasants who trustingly host the gypsies. He compares them to children flying a kite. And the strange character on the right, who is “shooting at acorns,” symbolizes the futility of efforts.

Dutch realism