MIJN, George van der
(b. 1726/27, London, d. 1763, Amsterdam)
Cornelis Ploos van Amstelc. 1758
Oil on canvas, 55 x 45,7 cm
Mauritshuis, The Hague
In the middle of the eighteenth century numerous native portraitists - in addition to a few foreigners - were active in Holland. They could be relied upon for truthful portrayals and good conversation pieces. The high level they could attain is seen in van der Mijn's small pendants of the wealthy timber merchant, great collector, and amateur artist Cornelis Ploos van Amstel and his wife Elisabeth Troost. His collection included more than 7000 drawings and about 100 paintings. In addition he owned prints, sculpture, scientific instruments, and a good library.
Single portraits, apparently too sensitive in their social significance, in the eighteenth century retain, by and large, their formal nature. Yet it was a formalism of a different kind a more informal formalism, one is tempted to say. In van der Mijn's portrait, the man takes on a pose of confidence which in its structure is rather conventional. But there the resemblance to the conventions of portraiture ends. For this man is sitting down. That, precisely is an informality which is very unlike the seventeenth century. Confident men in seventeenth century portraiture, were most often standing; this was a sign of activity. But then, the man in this portrait is not concerned with giving an impression of activity. He is - this too is a new type of informality - at leisure.
Van der Mijn portrayed the encyclopedic collector in his role as an artist; paintings depicting eighteenth-century collectors in their homes surrounded by their treasures on their walls were done in Holland, but not frequently. In van der Mijn's three-quarter-length, Ploss is seen with his chalk holder in one hand and a sketch in the other, seated informally.