Little was known about portraits of pregnant women. Moreover, it was assumed that Southern Netherlandish portraits of mothers-to-be did not exist at all. Until now! Thanks to archival and cultural-historical research, dr Leen Kelchtermans and dr Katharina Van Cauteren were able to identify no less than five portraits of pregnant women, painted by the greatest Baroque masters: Jacob Jordaens’ portrait of Catharina Behaghel (now in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) and Anthony Van Dyck’s portraits of Anna Wake (Mauritshuis, The Hague), Marie Nutius (The Phoebus Foundation), Sebilla Van den Berghe (Alte Pinakothek, Munich) and Marie De Raet (Wallace Collection, London). All five are part of a pair of pendants in which their images are combined with those of their spouses. Completely against tradition, the pregnant women are not depicted to the left of their husbands and thus in the inferior position, but to their right. As expectant mothers of the heir, they even seem to be given the place of honor!

Anthony Van Dyck, Portraits of Marie Nutius and Jacob De Witte, c.1628-29.

Read the full article ‘Pregnancy Portraits by Jacob Jordaens and Anthony Van Dyck’,  in Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art.