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Art and Allegiance in the Dutch Golden Age

The Ambitions of a Wealthy Widow in a Painted Chamber by Ferdinand Bol

Margriet van Eikema Hommes

324 pages
Amsterdam University Press
In the early 1650s Ferdinand Bol produced a series of wall-covering paintings. This ‘painted chamber’ is a unique example of a branch of the art of painting which was extremely popular in the seventeenth century, although hardly any of it now remains. Bol’s ensemble has always been surrounded by mysteries. Who was the initial owner, what was the reason for its commission and how were the ceiling-high canvases originally placed? Through a combination of material-technical research and archival, stylistic, iconographic and cultural-historical investigation these questions have for the first time been given convincing answers.
This book, with Bol’s unique ensemble in the lead role, is the account of an exciting (art) historical quest. The journey begins with apparently insignificant damage to the canvases and small remnants of old paint and varnish, passing via Biblical, classical and contemporary history to its eventual destination in the remarkable life of a particularly ambitious Utrecht widow. The reader becomes familiar with the religious beliefs, ideals and social ambitions of a remarkable woman, and sees close-up how, through Bol’s paintings, she was able to give literal expression to her endeavours in the turbulent Utrecht in the middle of the Golden Age.
Author Bio
Margriet van Eikema Hommes is kunsthistoricus en gespecialiseerd in historische schildertechnieken en Nederlandse zeventiende- en achttiende-eeuwse schilderijensembles. Ze is senior onderzoeker bij de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed.