Remember in an earlier post when I said that the study of provenance can tell us a lot about the history of taste? We’ll see how by taking a closer look at one of the paintings in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
The painting is Doubting Thomas—sometimes called The Incredulity of St. Thomas—by Dutch artist Adriaen van der Werff (1659–1722).
Adriaen van der Werff started his career by painting in the style called Fijnschilder, which literally means “Fine School”. In Fine School painting, the goal was to create a painting that is so smooth and pristine that individual brushstrokes could not be seen. Often the artworks were small and filled with details that required close looking and layers of symbolism. A perfect example is our A Young Woman at a Window with a Parrot and a Birdcage, which you can see bellow (and which will be discussed in a future blog post!).
By the late 17th century, van der Werff began to change his style, painting in a classical style that was popular in France. Doubting Thomas is a perfect example of this classical style. You can see it in the long, elegant proportions of his figures and in his rich depiction of costume.