Rijksmuseum strike at TEFAF: purchased moving portrait of Gesina ter Borch

Major coup for the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam at TEFAF Maastricht: the museum is acquiring a precious and moving portrait of Dutch painter Gesina ter Borch, depicting her brother Moses as a child. It was painted in 1667, some time after her death. It is the only one signed by the artist.

Quite a coup for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam at TEFAF in Maastricht, the world’s great antiques fair: the Dutch museum has acquired the only signed painting by the painter Gesina ter Borch (Deventer, 1631 - Zwolle, 1690), a member of one of the most important artistic families in the Netherlands in the 17th century. The work is a posthumous portrait of the artist’s younger brother Moses at the age of two. The Portrait of Moses ter Borch at the Age of Two was discovered at an antiquarian’s workshop in France by art dealer Dickie Zebregs of the Zebregs&Röell Fine Art and Antiques gallery, with locations in Amsterdam and Maastricht, who presented it at the 2024 edition of TEFAF. The Rijksmuseum was able to purchase this painting at TEFAF with the support of the “Women of the Rijksmuseum” fund . Cost of the transaction: 3 million euros.

The Ter Borch family’s artistic legacy entered the Rijksmuseum’s collection in 1886 and includes almost all of Gesina ter Borch’s work: 59 individual drawings and three watercolor albums. Gesina ter Borch lived and worked all her life in the Dutch city of Zwolle. Her oeuvre largely comprises watercolor drawings: delightful, sometimes funny and always highly original works. Although the artist was also known to have painted in oils, not a single undisputed work had emerged until now. Ter Borch guarded the artistic heritage of his entire family, making sure that it remained intact. The Dutch state acquired this heritage in 1886 and it has been kept at the Rijksmuseum ever since.

Gesina ter Borch, Portrait of her brother Moses ter Borch at the age of two (1667)
Gesina ter Bor
, Portrait of her brother Moses ter Borch at the age of two (1667)
Gesina ter Borch, Self-Portrait (1660)
ter Borch,
Self-Portrait (1660)

Moses ter Borch, in the portrait of his sister Gesina, is depicted wearing a dress with a white apron and a hat with feathers that contrast sharply with the dark background. He carries a drum and holds drumsticks. Next to him is a toy horse on wheels, against which an orange banner is leaning. A whip, several musical instruments, and a sword are depicted on the floor. The toys are references to his later life as a soldier. The artist inscribed the year 1647 on the portrait, but almost certainly painted it 20 years later, after Moses’ death.

Gesina ter Borch’s albums in the Rijksmuseum collection contain several outstanding drawings by Moses ter Borch, who was also a promising artist. At the age of 19, however, he joined the Dutch navy to fight the British in the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667). He died at the age of 22 from wounds sustained during the assault on the English coast at Harwich. The Rijksmuseum’s collection contains another posthumous portrait by Moses ter Borch: this work was probably the result of a collaboration between Gesina ter Borch and her brother Gerard ter Borch the Younger: the Rijksmuseum also holds several paintings by this artist.

“Gesina ter Borch,” says Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, “painted this moving portrait of her brother, who was 15 years older than her, after his death. This crowning achievement of her artistic legacy also offers an intimate glimpse into her personal life: the pain of loss and the importance of joy-filled memories are universal and still palpable in this 350-year-old painting.”

Rijksmuseum strike at TEFAF: purchased moving portrait of Gesina ter Borch
Rijksmuseum strike at TEFAF: purchased moving portrait of Gesina ter Borch

Warning: the translation into English of the original Italian article was created using automatic tools. We undertake to review all articles, but we do not guarantee the total absence of inaccuracies in the translation due to the program. You can find the original by clicking on the ITA button. If you find any mistake,please contact us.