Artwork Gifts and Art Gifts for Adults

Are you an art lover looking for art gift ideas online, then welcome! Maybe you can find something in our Art Gifts for Adult Collections

At Kipling de Freitas you will find gifts of art and art for gifts, for him, for her, for a birthday and lots more…

We have art gifts for a boyfriend like a gicleé on canvas reproduction of Leighton’s God Speed or an exact replica of a gold-plated American Tip Top Watch or a scaled-down version of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. We have art jewelry gifts for the girlfriend like an 18th-century Necklace with Rectangular Locket or maybe she would prefer the Marquise Art Deco Cuff or the Medieval Quatrefoil Bangle Watch. Then there are art inspired gifts for mom such as the Russian Imperial Egg Pendant Watch or the Empress Faustina Coin Necklace or a giclée on canvas reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. There are art history gifts such as a giclée on canvas reproduction of David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps and art related gifts such as a 20-piece Chocolate Ganache set, in which each delightful bite-sized chocolate is decorated artfully.

Here at Kipling de Freitas we believe that art can be, should be, used to elevate the human spirit, to expand our awareness of the world around us, to embrace each other. Art, of various kinds, has the potential to do exactly that. But art, as well as being a vehicle of personal expression, is also a cultural medium. It reflects the times we live in.

Ruskin wrote, in St. Mark’s Rest: The History of Venice, ‘Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.’ 

Let's talk about Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring...

Who was she? Was she a model employed directly for the sitting or was she a member of Vermeer’s household? Since Tracy Chevalier’s novel of 1999 Girl with a Pearl Earring and especially since the release of the film in 2003, the weight of general opinion has come down on the side of the latter. But there is no real evidence to support such a conclusion. Chances are, though, that the sitter was someone in the house where Vermeer lived. Such an arrangement had the advantage of being less costly than hiring a model. She could have been a maid but, equally, she might have been his wife, Catharina Bolnes.

The work has been dated to around 1665. John Michael Montias, the Yale economist who studied Vermeer extensively, informs us that Vermeer had ‘at least one female servant’ around that time. (See John Michael Montias, Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History, 1991, at 154)

Seventeenth-century Holland was a thriving prosperous place. It attracted immigrants in large numbers, the poorest of whom served as labourers and household help. Bryan Jay Wolf in Vermeer and the Invention of Seeing discusses contemporary Dutch society’s attitude to women servants. It was ambivalent. There was a strong element of suspicion fuelled, no doubt, by the fears a mistress would experience in having a nubile young woman in close daily contact with her husband. These fears were fed by stories of the wantonness of foreign girls. According to Marybeth Carlson (1994), they were seen as ‘Trojan horses of worldliness’ that surreptitiously corrupted the morality of the home with indecency. Wolf comments that this reputation for lewdness that foreign women acquired was part of a wider view in society that women were, by nature, licentious.

He quotes Giesela van Oostveen’s commentary in It Takes All Sorts to Make a World: Sex and Gender in Bredero’s Farce of the Miller: ‘(a maid’s) lack of trustworthiness reflects the… belief that reason and honour were social traits associated with upper-class behaviour. Women from the lower classes had greater difficulty controlling their libidinal impulses because they lacked a sufficiently developed faculty of reasoning.’ Consequently, if they were not policed the worse could be expected. In the stage plays of the day such as the Farce of the Miller, ‘the maid bears the brunt of the play’s anxieties’ according to Wolf. She is a party to her mistress’ sexual infidelity so that ‘when the stage-husbands discover their wives’ betrayal, their first measure is usually to dismiss the maid-servant.’

But the husband’s point of view was likely to be the exact opposite of his wife's; if not desire, at least a welcoming interest and, perhaps, a fascination. That is a plausible hypothesis for the creation of this work. We know very little about this painting except that it is Vermeer’s creation.

The image of the female servant was not all clouded in controversy, however. The mistress would come to rely on her. She would become a confidant and, in many situations, her loyalties would be to the mistress, supporting her, say, in matrimonial disputes. The long-serving faithful maid became instrumental in fostering the felicity of the home. The children, as children are wont to do, would become attached to her. The maid becomes, in Wolf’s words, ‘an idealized figure of domesticity’. This, obviously, would have a tendency to elevate the status of the immigrant women who served in these positions. And this tendency was reinforced by demographics. Women dominated; for every three males, there were four females.

These forces caused the maid to become more integrated into the household. A maid was a member of the family. Marybeth Carlson in A Trojan Horse of Worldliness? Maidservants in the Burgher Household in Rotterdam at the end of the Seventeenth Century, writes that such maids would dine at the same table as their employers. This implicit familiarity also made it easier for her to be used as a model.

As a family member, the maid could claim respectable status. She dressed, as much as was possible, like the family. This did not go unnoticed. Wolf tells us that ‘in 1681, the magistrates of Amsterdam issued a sumptuary law that forbade servants to wear silk garments and jewelry.’ Nevertheless, a goed uitziende (good-looking) maid might find a way around that since ‘women from the east of the Netherlands and the west of Germany, in particular, were considered not only reliable household members, but eligible wives.’

Referring to another of Vermeer’s works The Milkmaid, Montias tells the story of Tanneke Everpoel who might have been the model for that piece and who worked for Vermeer’s mother-in-law, Maria Thins. After marriage, Vermeer had moved into Maria’s house where his wife Catharina Bolnes and her brother Willem Bolnes lived. Willem seemed to have had mental issues. He was abusive to his mother and one day he attacked his pregnant sister with a stick. Catharina, luckily, was saved by Tanneke.


Older Post


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published