Juriaen Pool (Amsterdam 1666 – 1745 Amsterdam)
Portrait of a Young Girl, crowning a lamb with a wreath of flowers
Oil on canvas, 57 x 47.5 cm (22.4 x 18.7 inch); presented in a carved and gilt antique frame
Signed ‘Pool’ (lower right)
G. de Costa Blauch; from whom acquired in Paris on 15 February 1911 for 300 Francs by Vicomtesse de Poulpiquet du Halgouet, née De La Barre de Nanteuil (1879–1969); private collection, France
Juriaen Pool was born in 1666 as the son of a silversmith from Silesia, now Poland, which explains the family name, as ‘Pool’ means ‘Polish’ in Dutch.1 From the age of three, Juriaen grew up in Amsterdam’s ‘Burgerweeshuis’ orphanage, which now houses the Amsterdam Museum (formerly Amsterdam Historisch Museum). Highly unusually for orphans, he was allowed to be educated as a painter, specialising in elegant portraits of the Amsterdam elite.
In August 1693 Pool married Rachel Ruysch (The Hague 1664 – 1750 Amsterdam), the daughter of the scientist Frederik Ruysch, professor of anatomy and botany, and his wife Maria Post, who herself was the daughter of the architect Pieter Post, who designed the Mauritshuis and the Huis ten Bosch. Like the unusual choice of profession for an orphan, the marriage was equally unusual, as his wife was a member of Holland’s cultural elite, into which Pool was then catapulted. Rachel herself pursued original activities as well: in her youth, she painted watercolours of her father’s botanic specimens, was then apprenticed to the flower painter Willem van Aelst, and developed into one of Holland’s leading still-life painters, famed for her flower pieces, which achieved international fame.
It is thought that Pool generally gave up painting in the years following his marriage, while his wife continued to paint. However, some works are still known from this period, including a group portrait of Pool, Ruysch and their son Jan Willem Pool, which is preserved in the Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf (fig.).2 It has also been suggested that Rachel Ruysch painted flowers in her husband’s portraits, though there is little proof for this – the flowers in the present work are competently painted, but Ruysch’s own works generally display more flair and virtuosity.3
The present work is in beautiful state of preservation and is a rare portrait by Pool of a young girl, whose curious and inquisitive smile bestows the painting with additional charm. The girl, whose identity is sadly lost to time, is dressed as an adult woman in a rich dress of white silk, a heavenly blue scarf and pearls around her neck and in her ears. Seated in an idyllic landscape, she drapes a garland of flowers around the head of a lamb, which lies beside her. Pool has therefore depicted the girl as a shepherdess, a compositional motif that was fairly usual during the seventeenth century, and was intended to bestow an aura of a pastoral idyll. Similarly, boys were frequently placed in Mediterranean landscapes and dressed as hunters – the hunt was an aristocratic privilege. Portraits of children by Pool are rare, and our painting can for instance be compared to the portrait of Anna Lucretia Ortt (1687–1750), which is preserved at Castle Nijenrode in Breukelen.4 A portrait of Cornelis van Foreest (1704–1761) as a boy is in the Museum Alkmaar.5
We are grateful to Dr Fred Meijer for confirming Pool’s authorship, and likewise to Anna Koldeweij, who is conducting research on Pool, for also confirming the authorship upon examination of the original on 5 November 2021.
1. For the artist, see A. Koldeweij, ‘Juriaan Pool (1666-1745). Pourtraitschilder van veel vermaardheid’, Desipientia 19 (2012), no. 2, pp. 16-18.
2. Oil on canvas, 71 x 62.5 cm; Rudi Ekkart and Judith van Gent, Nederlandse portretten uit de 17e eeuw: eigen collectie, Rotterdam (Museum Boymans-van Beuningen) 1995, p. 169, fig. 57a.
3. I am grateful for Dr Fred Meijer for his observations in this matter, email correspondence 15 November 2021.
4. Oil on canvas, 50 x 34.5 cm; RKD Images No. 125049.
5. Oil on canvas, oval. 68 x 55 cm, inv. no. 27028; RKD Images No. 145480.