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John Van Cortlandt

American Art

Throughout the Spanish empire and in Europe in general, the lesser nobility and wealthy merchant classes imitated the royal courts in their patronage of the arts, including the commissioning of full-length portraits. Doña María de la Luz (whose adult portrait is also on view in this exhibition) is portrayed here in her Mexico City town house with a toddler’s rattle and a silver-mounted coral pacifier. Despite her young age, the sitter wears an embroidered silk dress in the height of French fashion complemented by a costly pearl necklace and matching earrings and bracelets. In Spanish America, the early eighteenth century saw the rise of the female portrait, which had been nearly nonexistent in seventeenth-century Mexico and Peru.

The painting of John Van Cortlandt, a young member of New York’s Anglo-Dutch elite, is likewise based on a European model, in this case British Grand Manner portraits of the period. The sitter wears a man’s European formal jacket of wool and inhabits a fanciful setting.

En todo el imperio español y en Europa en general, la nobleza menor y las clases mercantes adineradas imitaban a la corte real en su mecenazgo de las artes, comisionando retratos de cuerpo entero. Doña María de la Luz (cuyo retrato de adulta también puede verse en esta exposición) está representada aquí en su residencia urbana en la Ciudad de México con un cascabel de bebé y un chupete de coral montado en plata. A pesar de su corta edad, la modelo luce un vestido de seda bordada a la moda francesa, complementado por un costoso collar de perlas con aretes y pulseras a juego. En Hispanoamérica, el comienzo del siglo XVIII vio el surgimiento del retrato femenino, que había sido prácticamente inexistente tanto en México como en Perú durante el siglo XVII.

La pintura de John Van Cortlandt, joven miembro de la élite angloholandesa de Nueva York, está asimismo basada en un modelo europeo, en este caso en retratos británicos de la época al estilo Grand Manner. El joven lleva una chaqueta masculina formal de lana y posa en un extravagante escenario.

CULTURE American
MEDIUM Oil on linen
  • Place Made: United States
  • DATES ca. 1731
    DIMENSIONS 56 15/16 x 41 9/16 in. (144.7 x 105.6 cm) frame: 64 x 48 1/4 x 3 3/4 in. (162.6 x 122.6 x 9.5 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Unsigned
    COLLECTIONS American Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION American. John Van Cortlandt, ca. 1731. Oil on linen, 56 15/16 x 41 9/16 in. (144.7 x 105.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 41.152
    IMAGE x-ray, detail, CONS.41.152_1995_xrs_detail01.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 1995
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