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Picture of the Month



Le Midy/Meridies/DerMittag

dated 1651-1700, located in the graphic collection of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg. Published by Gerhard Altzenbach.

I have selected this picture mainly because of the parasol and because I have the feeling that it is slightly misdated. Let's see whether my feeling is true...

The engraving is part of a series of allegories of the times of day. I also have the Morning, the Evening and the Night - this one is the Noon. Like Telemann's musical representation of the times of day, this one symbolises noon by evoking heat: A high sun with rays beating down on a landscape that offers hardly any shade, a fan, a parasol and a skirt lifted to let some air get to the legs. It's hard to make out, but in the lower right corner there seems to be a naked figure taking a deep draught.

The feeling that "second half of 17th century" is wrong comes from the fact that in most or all post-1650 paintings, women's costume shows long-tipped, stiff bodices with horizontal necklines. This lady, however, has a high waist, a stomacher or the like with ties going across, and triangular tips of lace - a style that was, in the 19th century, called van-Dyck-lace.

In fact van Dijck did paint simliar, stomacher-style gowns with similar necklines in 1636: Mary Villiers and Anne Countess of Clanbrassil. Both have a high waist. Please note how the hairstyles of both those ladies are similar to the one in this engraving. The "evening" engraving even shows a collar simliar to that of Mrs Rombouts, dated 1632. The long, ballooning sleeves with lace cuffs are known from about 1630 until Pictures of the month archive

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