I have added a new Comment at the very end of this Blog post 18 June 2020.
- Dutch registers of births, marriages and deaths
It’s a separate issue, but I merely note here that this painting does not look like the majority of Maris paintings you can find on the Internet and I simply don’t know why. Likewise, it is rather puzzling that though Maris was living, working and well-known in Amsterdam at the time of the van Wezel bequest, it seems that he was not asked to date the painting (the range 1895 - 1922 is very wide for a modern work) or offer a title. And where was the sitter in 1922 and why wasn't the painting with her? It clutters up the simple morality tale I want to tell, but I have to say that lots of things in relation to this painting seem not quite right. The sitter does look very young, the painting does not look like Maris's regular work, the style could be that of a work painted many years before the dates (1895 - 1922) given to it.
For later developments of this story, please refer to my book The Best I Can Do and to the Rijksmuseum website and to the following Postscript:
Added April 2019. In December 2017, Heritage Auctions USA sold for $875 (hammer) a painting by Simon Maris which it dated to 1907, measured at 25 x 17 inches, and titled "Portrait of a seated lady in a blue dress". I have cut and pasted a link below but show a thumbnail above. The painting shows the same chair, the same dress, the same bonnet, the same reflection of the image in the rear mirror. The fan is closed, the pose of the sitter different, and the sitter appears to be either white or possibly mixed race. I understand that it was not unusual for portrait painters to use their own props, even clothes, because familiarity withe the props used made their task easier and quicker.
Added 18 June 2020:
Archival research by the Rijksmuseum has now discovered a number of black and white photographs dating from 1906 which show the model for Maris's portrait, a girl who is identified as Isabella and reckoned by the Rijksmuseum researchers to be about 12 years old. This is really interesting and very welcome information.
Equally, it is clear that the painting differs enough from the photographs for the question to arise, Is the painting a portrait of Isabella or has Isabella provided a model for some other kind of work? For example, in the photographs Isabella does not appear (as far as I can see) to be wearing a gold band on her ring finger as she does in the painting. And her appearance has been changed, and one might say, skilfully rather than through inability to copy rom the photographs.
There is clearly more material which has been found than is shown or mentioned in the Rijksmuseum statement (also available in Italian - I have read that to help out my reading of the Dutch version). I suggest two further questions to which the archive material may provide answers and help to determine the status of the painting as portrait or genre painting (at the simplest level):
1.On whose initiative was the painting produced : Isabella's? Simon Maris's? Someone else and if so who and why?
2. What was the first destination of the painting? Was it kept by Maris, handed to Isabella or her family, consigned for sale by Maris's dealer, handed to a client who had paid for it?