Portrait of a lady as Diana by Jan Mijtens (1614-1670)


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Object Description

Portrait of a lady, three-quarter length, wearing a shimmering pale pink silk gown and ivory silk cloak in the guise of Diana, Goddess of Hunting, holding a spear with a hound by her side in a woodland setting with a castle watch tower and waterfall in the far distance.

This portrait was once thought to depict Frances Theresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox (1647-1702), however Mytens is not believed to have visited England during his lifetime making this an improbable identification. It is believed that the elegant sitter is Fran├žoise van Aerssen (1642-1720) who sat for the artist on at least one other occasion. In 1667, she married Henry de Nassau, Lord Overkirk, a prominent Dutch military general and second cousin of King William III of England.

Jan Mijtens was one of the leading portrait painters in The Hague in the 17th century. He was born into a large family of painters, which included his uncle Daniel Mijtens the Elder. Jan was probably taught under Daniel Mitens as well as another uncle before being accepted as a master by the guild of Saint Luke in The Hague in 1639.

Alongside genre and history paintings, Mijtens is most well known for his individual and group portraits. His patrons included the family of the Stadtholder and aristocracy in The Hague, as well as foreign rulers such as Elector Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg, for whom Mitens painted a large family portrait for Oranienburg palace.

Mijten’s talent for capturing elegance combined with his technical prowess as a painter, made him one of the most popular portrait artists of his era.

Object History

Lt. Col. George B. Croft-Lyons, F.S.A. (1855-1926), England;

By whose executors sold, London, Sotheby’s, 8 December 1926, lot 74 to Coulin (as Sir Peter Lely, Portrait of Frances Stewart);

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Beck Patterson, Tucson, Arizona;

By whom bequeathed to the Dayton Art Institute, Ohio (as Sir Peter Lely);

By whom sold (“Sold by Order of the Trustees of the Dayton Art Institute to Benefit its Acquisition Fund”), New York, Sotheby’s, 16 May 1996, lot 77 (as Jan Mytens).

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