Hitherto unpublished, this elegant family group portrait is one of several of its type by Ryckaert datable to circa 1650-51. It compares closely with the Social Gathering in the Country in the Galleria Doria Pamphilij, Rome, also databe to circa 1650-1, which employs a similar setting and in which the figures are arranged in similar fashion.1
Van Haute describes a change in style in Ryckaert's work after 1649, possibly caused by the arrival in Brussels of the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in 1647. Leopold Wilhelm showed no interest in the coarse tavern and barn interiors painted by Ryckaert in the 1630s and '40s, but was looking for more refined scenes. The shift in style paid out: four paintings by Ryckaert are mentioned in the Archduke's inventory of 1659.2
We are grateful to Dr. Bernadette van Haute for endorsing the attribution to David Ryckaert III on the basis of photographs. Dr. van Haute has pointed out that the motifs of the horse-drawn carriage and the elegant couple standing on the left hand side of the present work are very similar to those in Ryckaert's Village Feast which she dates to the second half of the 1650s.3
1. B. van Haute, David III Rijckaert. A seventeenth-Century Flemish Painter of Peasant scenes, Turnhout 1999, pp. 124-25, cat. no. A107, reproduced fig. 107. Other examples are the Musical Company, dated 1650, in a private collection, Switzerland; the Musical Party, also dated 1650, in the Liechtenstein collection formerly at Vaduz; The Music Party in the Schönborn collection, Pommersfelden; see Van Haute, op. cit., pp. 119-24, cat. nos. A101, A103 and A105, all reproduced.
2. Van Haute, ibid., pp. 44-45.
3. Idem, pp. 152-53, cat. no. 162, reproduced.
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