Anonymous: The quadruplets of Dordrecht (1621)

(Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht, The Netherlands)

Another painting of a child. This is a groupportrait by an unknown Dutch artist from the town of Dordrecht. The painting show a quadruplet who were born in 1621. The parents were Cornelia Jans Coenraadsdr. (1590-before 1633) and Jacobus Pietersz. Costerus, a sailmaker. The couple married in 1612 and eventually would get 8 children - 4 sons and 4 daughters. The city archives claim that on june 9, 1621 a quadruplet was born at the Riedijk in the 'De Drie Zeyldragers' house (= 'The Three sailmakers'). Before the birth of the quadruplet the couple had twins in april 1614 who apparealy died very young. In november 1, 1616 the boy Johannes was born and in 1618 the girl Claertken. Present on the painting are (from left to right):

- Pieter Costerus (PIETER-DE-1. / Æ SVÆ. 5 · DA / EN. 5. VREN): first to be born, is 5 days and 5 hours old
- Janette Costerus (IANETTE-DE-2. / Æ-SVÆ ·3 · DA. EN . 15. VRE.): second to be born, is 3 days and 15 hours old
- Maria Costerus (MARIA-DE- 4, Æ · SVÆ -3- DA.): fourth to be born, is 4 days and 3 hours old
- Elisabeth Costerus (ELISABET, DE, 3 / Æ SVÆ 1 . ½ . VR): third to be born, is one and a half hour old

Given the age of each child at the time of this painting the child-birth apparently took about 53 hours! Elisabeth died after only one and a half hour and is shown here deceased. She has a white shroud with palm sprigs and rosemary - a catholic custom which was also used by protestants to repel the devil. The other 3 children are shown swaddled and were baptised with 'with great pomp and ceremony' in the Augustinian Church. The text in the left corner reads: "Siet de kinderen zijn een ghave des Heeren / ende de vrucht des lyfs is een gheschenck PSALM, :C:RRVII." which translates as "See, Children are a gift from the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is his reward, psalm 127:3". As the couple were not very rich this is a 'low budget painting', the city council of Dordrecht probably helped in the funding as the birth of a quadruplet was a very special occasion. Painting from 1621

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