A young boy blows bubbles in a shell full of soapsuds. The bubbles will later float away with the wind and inevitably burst. The message behind this carefree game is clear: enjoy the moment, because it will have passed before you know it. It is unlikely that this is what attracted William V, however. In the eighteenth century, the detailed representations of seventeenth-century ‘fijnschilders’ – literally, fine painters – such as Van Mieris, were particularly popular. The polished finish of their works was considered breathtaking.
Frans van Mieris the Elder (Leiden 1635 - 1681 Leiden)
A Boy Blowing Bubbles
18.3 x 25.2 cm
Dated and signed
middenonder: M.DC.LXIII. / F. van Mieris. fect. Lugd. Bat.
Thomas, Count De Fraula, Brussel; his sale, Brussels, 21 July 1738 (Lugt 488), no. 213 (for 730 guilders and 50 cents to Lormier); Willem Lormier, The Hague, 1738-1758; his sale, The Hague, 4 July 1763 (Lugt 1307), no. 163 (for 1,560 guilders to Voet for Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland; sold after the latter’s death for 1,500 guilders to Van Slingelandt, via the Saxon envoy in The Hague, Johann Heinrich Kauderbach, 31 December 1763); Govert van Slingelandt, The Hague, 1763-1767; his widow, Agatha Huydecoper, The Hague, 1767-1768; Van Slingelandt sale, The Hague, 18 May 1768 (Lugt 1683), no. 16; the entire collection sold to Prince William V; Prince William V, The Hague, 1768-1795; confiscated by the French, transferred to the Muséum central des arts/Musée Napoléon (Musée du Louvre), Paris, 1795-1815; Royal Picture Gallery, housed in the Prince William V Gallery, The Hague, 1816; transferred to the Mauritshuis, 1822; exhibited in the Prince William V Gallery, The Hague, since 2010