We do not know the identity of this life-sized seated couple with their four children. This painting by Cornelis de Vos, with its clear structure, illustrates how the core family was presented as the ideal for the development of a well-balanced society in 1630, when the Baroque was in full swing. In this period, naturally, the genre became very popular. Presumably, this painting would have been destined to hang in the centre of the parental home. The clients who commissioned these impressive canvases were willing to go to great expense for them. The price of a painting like this was comparable to the cost of a family car today.
The pater familias is touching one of his children with his right hand, and is pointing at his heart with his left. The not-so-hidden message is that this man has great affection for his family. The father is sitting between two of his boys: on the right, a child dolled up as a small adult, on the left, a toddler in the slightly more playful children's dress of the time. We can tell that the second one is also a boy though, from the plumes in his hat and his position beside his father.
The mother is holding hands with the youngest of the four children. This toddler is wearing a velvet headband that is designed to protect it should it fall down. The shiny apple in its left hand is a symbol of fecundity. The eldest daughter, on the right, like her brother on the opposite side of the painting, is wearing adult fashion. We can tell that this family is well-to-do by their clothing and accessories: richly embroidered gloves, gold jewellery, pearl eardrops...
SizeH: 143,5 cm
MediumOil on canvas