Portrait of a Girl, Presumably Elisabeth de la Fontaine (Primary Title)
Portrait of a girl of the Ligne family aged 11 years (Former Title)
These portraits depict a pair of adolescent English aristocrats. Despite their ages—the girl is eleven and the boy fourteen—and their curious resemblance to one another, the paintings were probably commissioned in celebration of their marriage. The green color of their ornate costumes often figured in matrimonial images of the period as a symbol of good fortune.
Other features of the compositions point to the significant influence on English painters of recently established conventions of Flemish aristocratic portraiture. The raised curtains that flank the youths symbolically define the composition as an intermediary space between the private and public realms. The boy and girl retain a sense of dignity as they emerge from the obscurity of their residence to present themselves to the viewer. The column at the boy’s side signals his supportive function as master of the household. His stance is self-assured, while the bride’s stiff pose implies the subjugation of her body and will solely to the interests of her husband and family
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