Rijksmuseum in 60 seconds: The Girl Dressed in Blue

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Johannes Verspronck made countless portraits, but The Girl Dressed in Blue is undoubtedly his masterpiece. Curator Friso Lammertse tells us why this particular portrait is so special, in 60 seconds! 💙

Girl in a Blue Dress, also called Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue or simply Portrait of a Girl, is an oil painting by Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck in the collection of the Rijksmuseum. It was acquired by the museum in 1928 as a gift from the Vereniging Rembrandt. 

Girl in a Blue Dress

In 1912 the wealthy merchant and art collector Mari Paul Voûte (1856-1928) became chairman of the Vereniging Rembrandt. At the end of World War I, when Frederick Augustus II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg was forced to abdicate and needed to downsize, his art collection came on the market and in 1923 the Vereniging Rembrandt formed a consortium with senior members to purchase artworks from this collection at their own risk in order to give them to the Amsterdam museum. The Girl in Blue was one of these artworks purchased by Voûte. Rather than giving it directly to the museum, however, he kept it until he died, whereupon he bequeathed it to the Vereniging Rembrandt for them to make over to the Rijksmuseum, which they did.
The painting is very similar in composition to Portrait of a Lady with an Ostrich Feather Fan, a pendant marriage portrait painted by Verspronck the year before, today in the collection of the Rijksmuseum.


During the Golden Age the power in the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands came to regents, from the well-to-do bourgeoisie. This new group of rulers had their own portraits painted often, and also their children. What is special is that children in the 17th century were often portrayed as small adults. Examples can be found in the work of prominent painters such as Gerard ter Borch, Dirck Santvoort, Wybrand de Geest and Caesar van Everdingen. Perhaps the best-known children’s portrait from the 17th century is Verspronck’s Girl in Blue, seen in the Rijksmuseum. On 15 September 1945 her picture appeared on the new Dutch banknote of 25 guilders.
The identity of the girl in blue has always remained unknown, but it is undeniable that the painting has been commissioned by a wealthy family. Perhaps she came from Haarlem, where Verspronck lived. She wears beautiful clothing and expensive jewelery, depicted by Verspronck in great detail and refinement. Her dress is covered with gold brocade. The lace collar and cuffs are extremely modern for that time. Pearls and a feather fan complete her image.
The girl stands against a neutral, uniform background, separate from the environment, whereby all attention is focused on her person. This is accentuated by a subtle play of light and shadow…. With a twinkle in her dark eyes she looks at the viewer. The work is intriguing to this day, perhaps not so much because of the technical talent with which it is painted, but mainly because of the contradiction between her childish innocence and the notable straitjacket of her expensive adult clothing, which in contemporary terms is remarkable. Wiki.


🖼️ Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue, Johannes Cornelisz. Verspronck, 1641 🚨 More Rijksmuseum in 60 Seconds: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/stories…

Image courtesy of the Rijsmuseum.



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