CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Agnes Etherington Art Centre acquires painting by Jan Victors

From the museum’s press release, 19 August 2015

A recently acquired painting by Jan Victors, an artist in the orbit of Rembrandt around 1640, has arrived at the Agnes. Ruth and Naomi (1653) is the first work by the artist to enter the collection, and it enhances the gallery’s great strength in paintings by Rembrandt and his followers.This painting will feature in an exhibition celebrating fifty years of Dr. Alfred Bader’s gifts and contributions to the Agnes in the summer of 2017.

Ruth and Naomi depicts one of the most poignant moments in the Old Testament. The Book of Ruth (1:15-17) tells of the Israelite Naomi, widowed and living with her recently widowed Moabite daughters-in-law, who urges them to leave her to her solitude and return to their people. Orpah, visible in the lower left corner retreating into the distance, obeys the command, but Ruth remains steadfast in her allegiance to Naomi. Bader Curator/Researcher of European Art Dr Jacquelyn N. Coutré explains, “In her proclamation of ‘whither thou goest, I will go; and whither thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God,’ Ruth provokes perceptible ambivalence in the elderly Naomi: the latter does not wish to part with her daughter-in-law but she desires that Ruth find happiness with another husband. Victors effectively communicates the emotional bond that transcends blood relation through the concentrated gazes, proximity of the heads, and intertwined hands of the two women. Full of dramatic gestures that communicate the story with a palpable immediacy, this painting is a beautiful evocation of family loyalty and female solidarity, as well as religious conversion.”

The painting was acquired through the generous support of the Bader Acquisition Fund.