01 Paintings, The amorous game, Part 20 - With Footnotes

Caspar Netscher, 1639 - 1684 The Hague
Oil on panel
15 by 12 1/2 in.; 38.1 by 31.8 cm
Private Collection

Scenes of love and gallantry dominate Caspar Netscher’s genre paintings of the mid-1660s. While most are politely circumspect or mildly flirtatious, The Seduction offers a more pointed representation of venal love.  Here, the elegant young woman standing at left assumes the role of the procuress: pointing insistently at her palm, she demands money from the young man seated before her.  He, in turn, dutifully offers up a gold coin in payment.  The second young woman, clad in a lustrous satin gown, is poised with pitcher and glass, ready to commence festivities the moment the transaction is completed.  On the carpet-covered table at right are a lute and an open songbook.  The amorous connotations of music in Dutch paintings are well documented: while the lute was capable of conveying a multitude of meanings, in this instance it was most likely included as a signifier of voluptuousness, luxury, and unchastity. More

Caspar Netscher (1639 – January 15, 1684) was a Dutch portrait and genre painter. He was a master in depicting oriental rugs, silk and brocade and introduced an international style to the Northern Netherlands. He was born in Heidelberg or Prague. Caspar was adopted, in Arnhem, by a rich physician named A. Tullekens. Owing to his great aptitude for painting he was placed under a local artist named Hendrick Coster. He then became a student of Ter Borch in Deventer. 

In 1658 he set out for Italy to complete his education, booking passage on a ship to Bordeaux with letters of introduction from Tullekens for his cousin Neny there. While in Bordeaux he met the mathematician and fountain designer Godijn, and married his daughter Margaretha Godijn on 25 November 1659, which halted his progress to Rome. In Bordeaux he toiled hard to earn a livelihood by painting small cabinet pictures. Fearing the persecutions of Protestants, after his son was born he moved back North to The Hague in 1662, and turned his attention to portrait-painting. 

It was in these that Netscher's genius was fully displayed. The choice of these subjects, and the habit of introducing female figures, dressed in glossy satins, were imitated from Ter Borch; they possess easy yet delicate pencilling, brilliant and correct colouring, and pleasing light and shade; but frequently their refinement passes into weakness. The painter was gaining both fame and wealth when he began to suffer from gout and took to his bed, where he continued to paint lying down and died prematurely in 1684, in The Hague. More

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