Theodoor van Thulden

Allegorical portrait of Josina Copes and her children

Aged around fourteen, Theodoor van Thulden ('s-Hertogenbosch, 1606 – 1669) leaves for Antwerp to become an artist. He succeeds, blossoming into a sought-after painter of altarpieces, portraits, and mythological and allegorical subjects. He may have started his career as a student and assistant of Peter Paul Rubens, with whom he later works on various large-scale art projects.

Around 1646, Van Thulden returns to the city of his birth and paints a series of allegories for the city hall of 's-Hertogenbosch and for the Orange Hall in Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. Around 1650, he completes a number of allegorical portraits, of which this elegant portrait of Josina Copes-Schade van Westrum with her five children is a beautiful example. The wife of the pensionary of 's-Hertogenbosch is depicted as a maternal figure, guiding her children to a good and virtuous life.

She is representing this by pointing to the Temple of Virtue. Or rather: to the steep path leading to it. The temple is based on a design by Rubens. The child blowing bubbles and the texts on the left and right underline the painting's vanitas message. The aim: to remind children of their mortality and the absurdity of worldly affairs and self-indulgence.

Practical information

Allegorical portrait of Josina Copes and her children
Artist Theodoor van Thulden
Date 1650-1651 
Material Oil on canvas
Size 195 x 253 cm

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