Jan Victors (Dutch, 1619–after 1676) was probably a student of the famous Dutch Golden Age artist Rembrandt (Dutch, 1606–1669). Just like his contemporaries, Victors created works with various popular subjects, including religious scenes, portraits, and genre paintings.
The Milwaukee Art Museum has a market scene in its collection which falls into this last category. The Marriage Trap is set along the familiar canals of Holland. A peasant wedding party is purchasing a fish for the ensuing celebration.
But the Dutch loved layering painting with many layers of symbolism–often for a humorous result. Victor’s ability in combining realism with humor is illustrated by the context and placement of the fish. It is most likely intended as a sexual metaphor!
Recently, The Marriage Trap was on our list for submission to the Art Loss Register. A quick look at the thick object file—where we keep records and correspondence related to one artwork—showed me that there was some untangling to do! So, I carefully read through everything, looked for more resources, and double checked it all before organizing it in a clearly stated entry for our collection database.