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Gonzales Coques, A Family Group

Key facts
Full title A Family Group
Artist Gonzales Coques
Artist dates 1614/18 - 1684
Date made about 1664
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 64.2 × 85.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG821
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Family Group
Gonzales Coques

We don’t know their names, but this was undoubtedly a wealthy, fashion-conscious family, almost certainly from Antwerp where the artist, Gonzales Coques, was based. Group portraits such as this were popular among the city elite and artists incorporated gestures, looks and activities to bring the scene to life and to suggest the character of the individuals and their relationships to each other.

Here the father, serious and slightly preoccupied, looks down to his left. His son – dressed in skirts, which were commonly worn by boys – is distracted by the antics of a tame bird, but looks the same direction. The wife and daughters, however, look on a contrasting diagonal. This sequence of figures forms a graceful arc, linked and contrasted by looks and gestures.

The eldest daughter stands alone, slightly outside the group. The roses she gathers are symbolic of love and marriage – this and her position may indicate that she is about to marry and leave her immediate family.

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