Frans Floris the Elder: Family portrait (1561)


(City Museum Wuyts-Van Campen and Baron Caroly, Lier, Belgium)

A painting by the Flemish artist Frans Floris the Elder (1517 – 1570). The identity of the depicted family is uncertain. The most popular suggestion is that of the Van Berchem family, a wealthy Flemish family who lived in the castle of Zevenbergen in Ranst. In that case the man with the lute is Jan van Berchem (1532 - 1593), bailiff of Breda and mayor of Antwerp. The woman at the virginal is his wife Jacqueline van Enckevoort (...-1598). The other people are children of the couple, grandchildren, son-in-laws, etc. The man in the portrait would be a deceased son-in-law (the text on the portrait claims that he died on 10 January 1559, aged 58 years). At the top and the bottom of the family portrait are several lines in Latin: " VT NIL CONCORDI THALAMO FELICIUS OMNI IN VITA ESSE POTEST ET SINE LITE TORO", "SIC MAGE IVCVNDVM NIHIL QUAM CERNERE GNATOS CONCORDEIS NIVEO PECTORE PACE FRVI, - 1561". This translates as "As in life there can be nothing happier than a marriage in unison and a bed without discord, there is nothing more pleasant than to see one's offspring in unison enjoy peace with an immaculate mind, 1561". Also typical are the music instruments, these refer to the 'concordia', the harmony within the family. Painting from 1561.

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