Cornelis De Vos

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Cornelis de Vos is a painter of history pieces, religious works and portraits, who immigrated to Antwerp. He is the brother of Paul de Vos (1595-1678) and the brother-in-law of Frans Snijders (1579-1657). De Vos worked together with these two on occasion and with brother-in-law Jan Wildens (1584/86-1653). His work is the figures, while they provide the still lives and landscapes. Cornelis de Vos mainly worked for an Antwerp clientele comprised of wealthy citizens.

In addition, he also makes his works with an eye on export, primarily to Spain. De Vos is also active as an art dealer.

There is clearly a trace of an influence by Rubens in his earliest work. For composition themes, motifs and Caravaggio-esque influences, he consults the Master. His work is notable for a warm palette and refined rendering of fabric.

De Vos has the greatest recognition as a portrait painter. Beginning in 1621, after the departure of Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) from Antwerp, he is the leading portraitist of the Antwerp bourgeois. De Vos is nonetheless influenced by van Dyck. He has a talent for painting children and proves to be a master in the painting of group portraits, such as in Portrait of a Family from 1631 (KMSKA, Antwerp). His family portraits underline the notion of family happiness, which values the marriage and the immediate family as the core.

Beginning in 1624, de Vos exchanges the thickly produced brush strokes for a lighter painting style and chooses for landscapes in the background. Here too one sees the influence of Rubens. From about 1630, his painting skill evolves from relief-like compositions towards compositions in which the figures are placed more realistically in the space. A greater attention to the landscape also comes about. More intensive facial expressions and further developed architecture in the background are in line with the developments of the Baroque.

(Text: Matthias Depoorter, 2018)

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