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Portrait of a Young Girl and a Boy on a Terrace



Renier De La Haye (1640-1695)
Portrait of a Young Girl and a Boy on a Terrace
oil on cradled panel
AGLC 393 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Two youngsters are portrayed on the terrace of a villa. A large classicizing base and column closes off the composition on the left. The girl sits on a Persian or Indian rug, which is draped over the stone step. She wears a long white satin dress, while a cloth draped over her left shoulder is kept in place by a richly decorated chain over her chest. A double string of pearls adorns her neck, and another band of pearls decorates the scarf at the top of her dress. On her head she has a cap decorated with large red and white ostrich feathers. She is twining a floral wreath and for this she picks the flowers with her right hand from a finely ornamented silver tray which stands beside her. The boy wears a blue garment à la romaine with a shawl over his shoulders. On his head, which is turned to the left, he wears a beret with a white ostrich feather as decoration. He makes a pointing gesture with his right hand in the direction of the garden and he holds a spear in his left. A little dog walks with the boy, while on the right a much bigger dog is waiting. Apparently the boy wants to go on a falcon hunt, because a falcon is resting on a pole to the right with the hood over its head to keep it calm. Falconry in the Netherlands was a favourite pastime among the nobility. It is not certain if the boy and girl belonged to this upper circle of society, but the whole setting bespeaks the noble aspirations of the rich family who ordered this portrait of two of its younger scions.   

Renier de la Haye has signed this charming portrait in full. Yet, even without this signature, the hand of the master is immediately recognisable, because the work is a typical example of his portraiture. With its elegant style, luxurious subject and small dimensions, it reveals the decisive influence of the work of de la Haye’s colleague in The Hague, Caspar Netscher (1635/6-1684), even if de la Haye’s manner was always more naïve. This work can be dated to c. 1665-1675, because of the fashion for big ostrich feathers. It is furthermore remarkable that this painting was already in France from 1775: without doubt it can be identified with the panel that was auctioned on 25 September of the same year in Paris. Renier de la Haye was a pupil of Adriaen Hanneman (c. 1604-1671) in The Hague around 1660. There, in 1662, he was admitted as a member of the painters guild, the Confrerie Pictura. His admission fee indicates that he was born in The Hague. He married in the same year and moved to Utrecht, where he became a member of the guild in 1669. Because of the occupation by French troops, de la Haye, together with other artists from the Northern Netherlands, like Jan Davidsz. de Heem (see p. 80), registered in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in the winter of 1672-1673. He must have died after 1695, but where this occurred is unknown. He is mainly known as a painter of elegant genre scenes and portraits, mostly in handsome interiors.

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About the artist

He studied under Adriaen Hanneman in The Hague around 1660 and was admitted to the painters’ guild there in 1662. He is known for his elegant genre scenes and portraits, mostly with attractive interior settings.

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