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Jan Weenix, 'An Italian Courtyard', probably 1660-5

Key facts
Full title An Italian Courtyard
Artist Jan Weenix
Artist dates 1642 - 1719
Date made probably 1660-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 84.5 × 68.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Mrs Gifford-Scott, 1980
Inventory number NG6462
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
An Italian Courtyard
Jan Weenix

Two young lovers sit on the steps of an inn under an Italian sky, wiling away their time flirting. He gazes up at her as she dips a sweet into his glass of wine, a pearl earring lightly brushing her neck, a feather wafting over her fair curls. A young Black servant boy in magnificent uniform watches their unrestrained behaviour. He holds a tray containing a half-peeled lemon and an open oyster, often thought to be an aphrodisiac.

The inn seems to have taken over an ancient classical building with a terrace in front of it. The columns of its portico tower up out of sight. On the terrace is a statue inspired by Michelangelo’s Rebellious Slave (Louvre, Paris), which might have appealed to a Dutch collector unable to make the journey to see such a famous masterpiece for themselves.

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