Pictura (An Allegory of Painting)

Object Details


Pictura (An Allegory of Painting)


Frans van Mieris the Elder (Dutch, 1635 - 1681)






Oil on copper


12.7 × 8.9 cm (5 × 3 1/2 in.)

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Images depicting the allegory of art were traditionally used to classify painting as one of the liberal arts. A woman, usually idealized, personifies Pictura (Painting) and holds objects vital to artistic creation. In her left hand she holds a palette, brushes, and a small plaster sculpture that served as a model for larger works. Around her neck she wears a mask on a chain, which may refer to art's ability to deceive through the art of illusion.

Frans van Mieris the Elder adopted the antique model of Pictura but updated it for his time. The model is not classically beautiful or idealized; she is an average young woman observed from everyday Dutch life.

Van Mieris the Elder was Gerrit Dou's most promising student in the school of fijnschilders (fine painters) in Leiden in the 1600s. The highly finished quality of this painting is an excellent example of this style of painting.

before 1690

Private Collection (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Source: Seen by Gerard de Lairesse before he went blind in 1690.


Possibly Deher


Probably Johannes Lubbeling (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

- 1759

Pieter Leendert de Neufville, died 1759 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)


Leendert Pieter de Neufville, Dutch, 1729 - 1797 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), [sold, Leendert de Neufville sale, Amsterdam, June 19, 1765, lot 62, to Johan Aegidiusz van der Marck.]

- 1773

Johan Aegidiusz van der Marck, 1707 - 1772 (Leiden, The Netherlands) [sold, van der Marck sale, de Winter, Yver, Amsterdam, August 25, 1773, lot 181.]


Pierre Fouquet Jr., 1729 - 1800 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), sold to Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Lebrun, 1773.


Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Lebrun, 1748 - 1813 (Paris, France) [sold, Lebrun sale, Rémy, Paris, March 15, 1773, lot 60, to Alexandre Joseph Paillet.]

1773 -

Alexandre-Joseph Paillet, 1743 - 1814 (Paris, France)

- 1780

Antoine Poullain, died 1780 (Paris, France) [sold, Poullain sale, Paris, March 15, 1780, lot 74, to Jacques Lenglier.]

1780 -

Jacques Lenglier, French, died 1814 (Paris, France)

by 1781 - 1787

Louis Antoine Auguste, Duc de Rohan-Chabot, 1733 - 1807 (Paris, France) [sold, Rohan-Chabot sale, Lebrun, Paris, December 10, 1787, lot 39.]
Source: Recorded in collection 1781.

1787 - 1794

Charles-René-Dominique Sochet Destouches, died 1794 (Paris, France) [sold, Destouches sale, Lebrun, Paris, March 21, 1794, lot 48.]

- 1808

Lespinasse de Langeac (Paris, France) [sold, Langeac sale, Paillet, Paris, December 14, 1808, lot 48, through Jean-François-Marie Bellier, to Perrin Jeune.]

1808 - 1816

Perrin Jeune [sold, Perrin Jeune sale, Elie, Paris, March 4, 1816, lot 28, to Alexis Delahante.]


Alexis Delahante, French, 1767 - 1837 (London, England; Paris, France)


Charles Ferdinand d'Artois, Duc de Berri, 1778 - 1820 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Marie Caroline de Bourbon, 1820.
Source: PI: Collectors File: Recorded in posthumous inventory of 1820.

1820 - 1837

Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Sicile, duchesse de Berry, 1798 - 1870 (Paris, France; Venice, Italy) [unsold, Berry sale, Christie's, London, April 1834, lot 57; sold, Berry sale, Bataillard, Paris, April 4, 1837, lot 68, through Durand-Daclos to "Mr. Hoppe."]
Source: PI: 1834 sale from Collectors File.

- 1849

William Williams Hope, 1802 - 1855 (Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire, England) [sold, Hope sale, Christie's, London, June 16, 1849, lot 84, through Farrar (London, England) to Charles A. Bredel.]

1849 - 1851

Charles A. Bredel, died 1851 (London, England), by inheritance to his daughters, Misses Bredel, 1851.

1851 - 1875

Misses Bredel (London, England) [sold, Bredel sale, Christie's, London, May 1, 1875, lot 118, through Martin H. Colnaghi (London, England) to Edward Charles Baring.]

1875 - 1897

Edward Charles Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke, 1828 - 1897 (London, England), by inheritance to his son, John Baring, 1897.

1897 - 1929

John Baring, 2nd Baron Revelstoke, 1863 - 1929 (London, England) [sold, Revelstoke sale, Christie's, London, July 26, 1929, lot 65, to Frank Partridge & Sons Ltd.]


Frank Partridge & Sons, Ltd., English, founded 1902 (London, England)

1929 - 1939

Dr. Cornelis Johannes Karel van Aalst, Dutch, 1866 - 1939 (Hoevelaken, The Netherlands), by inheritance to N. J. van Aalst, 1939.

1939 - still in 1965

N. J. van Aalst (Hoevelaken, The Netherlands; Breda, The Netherlands), by inheritance within the van Aalst family.

1965 - 1982

Van Aalst Family, sold through Gustav Cramer to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1982.

Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French and English Masters (1850) (Cat. 70)
  • British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom (London), 1850
Exhibition of the Works of Ancient Masters (1863) (Cat. 90)
  • British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom (London), 1863
17e eeuwse meesters uit Gelders bezit (1953) (Cat. 41)
  • Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (The Hague), 1953
De schilder in zijn wereld: Van Jan van Eyck tot Van Gogh en Ensor (February 6, 1964 to January 24, 1965) (Cat. 80)
  • Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof (Delft), December 19, 1964 to January 24, 1965
  • Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (Antwerp), February 6 to March 14, 1965
A Collectors' Choice/Terugzien in bewondering (February 19 to March 9, 1982) (Cat. 55)
  • Mauritshuis (The Hague)
De Hollandse Fijnschilders (November 17, 1989 to February 25, 1990) (Cat. 14)
  • Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), November 17, 1989 to February 25, 1990
Great Dutch Paintings from America (September 28, 1990 to May 5, 1991) (Cat. 44)
  • Mauritshuis (The Hague), September 28, 1990 to January 13, 1991
  • The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, February 16 to May 5, 1991
Copper as Canvas: Two Centuries of Masterpiece Paintings on Copper, 1525 - 1775 (December 19, 1998 to August 22, 1999) (Cat. 39)
  • Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix), December 19, 1998 to February 28, 1999
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), March 28 to June 13, 1999
  • Mauritshuis (The Hague), June 26 to August 22, 1999
Frans van Mieris (1635-1681) (October 1, 2005 to May 21, 2006) (Cat. 27)
  • Mauritshuis (The Hague), October 1, 2005 to January 22, 2006
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), February 26 to May 21, 2006

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Christie's, London. Catalogue of the Beautiful Collection of Pictures of the Very Highest Class, of William Williams Hope, Esq., partly from Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire [...]. June 14-16, 1849 p. 23, lot 84.

Catalogue of Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French and English Masters [...], exh. cat. (London: British Institution, 1850) p. 10, no. 70.

Catalogue of Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French, and English Masters [...], exh. cat. (London: British Institution, 1863) p. 11, no. 90.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of the Choice Collection of Ancient & Modern Pictures, of the Rev. John Lucy, Deceased, also the Very Choice and Well-Known Bredel Collection [...] (London: Christie, Manson & Woods, 1875) p. 21, lot 118.

Marsy, Alexandre Charles Arthur, Comte de. Balthasar de Monconys. Analyse de ses voyages au point de vue artistique (Caen: F. Le Blanc-Hardel, 1880) p. 31 (possibly Getty painting).

Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. (Esslingen am Neckar: Paul Neff Verlag, 1907-1928) vol. 10, p. 6, no. 26.

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Dutch and Flemish Old Masters in the Collection of Dr. C. J. K. van Aalst, Huis-te-Hoevelaken, Holland. J. W. von Moltke, ed. (Verona: 1939) p. 202, ill.

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