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Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of a Lady, seated, wearing monk’s habit, the bearded monk standing beside her wearing her clothing, while another monk in the background bolts the door, c.1720

Portrait miniature of a Lady, seated, wearing monk’s habit, the bearded monk standing beside her wearing her clothing, while another monk in the background bolts the door, c.1720

Carl-Gustav Klingstedt (1657-1734)

Portrait miniature of a Lady, seated, wearing monk’s habit, the bearded monk standing beside her wearing her clothing, while another monk in the background bolts the door, c.1720

Carl-Gustav Klingstedt (1657-1734)

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Price:

£1,200

Materials:

Indian ink and watercolour ‘en grisaille’ with red highlights on vellum

Dimensions:

Rectangular, 2 27/32 x 2 1/8 in (54 x 72 mm)

Provenance:

Private Collection, USA

Frame:

Later gilt-metal frame

This painting is clearly a satire on the dissolute lives of monks, who had long been accused of sinful living under the protection of religion...

This portrait by the Swedish Rococo artist Carl-Gustav Klingstedt is typical of his rendering of small gallant scenes and jeux de mots.[1] Many of his miniatures, including most likely the present painting, were destined for snuff-boxes, where their salacious subject matter could be hidden from public view. Here, the scene depicts two monks and a lady, the figures in the foreground having exchanged clothing. The work is clearly a satire on the dissolute lives of monks, who had long been accused of sinful living under the protection of religion. The locking of the door by the second monk is perhaps a comment on the secretive ease with which sexual encounters could take place. The wine, clay pipes and playing cards on the table allude further to the immoral lives thought to be lived by those in holy orders. The skull on the rope belt of the monk in the foreground is a symbol of vanitas, representing the fruitless pursuit of pleasure and the certainty of death.

Klingstedt, born in Riga, was originally destined for a military career, joining the Swedish army at the age of fifteen and then serving in the French army. By 1689, he had decided to attempt to make a living from his art. In France he was given the French form of his name Clinchelet (or Clinchetet and Clingetel) and was also named Raphael des Tabatière, gaining an appointment as draughtsman in ordinary to the Duke of Bavaria.



[1] For other miniatures by Klingstedt, see M. Olausson/J. Sjöholm, Nationalmuseum. Svenska och övriga nordiska miniatyrer, Halmstad, 2001, I, pp. 315-317.

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