This is an important group portrait by Jan Mijtens, who was known for his portraiture, and there are not many in collections in the US. This painting is an impressive, large example of his work, but it needs a little love. There is a good amount of abrasion of the paint and one can see that past repairs have tried to deal with the effects of this. Especially in the sky, the trees and the blue dress of the young girl one can see how old retouching has “gone bad”. What should not be visible is now much too visible! If you look at the woman’s face you see a particularly unfortunate retouching that has turned white over time, but should really be her skin tone. And overall there is the old story of the yellowed varnish that betrays the true colors of the painting. A light layer of dirt and grime on the surface is also not helping.
With a little bit of work this painting can be brought back to life and the disturbing discolorations can be replaced or toned back. A cleaning and re-varnishing will bring back the colors to old splendor and let the painting shine again in the Dutch gallery.
- Artist: Jan Mijtens, Netherlands, about 1614-1670
- Medium: oil on canvas