Works from the Fondation Custodia

Children of the Golden Age

from 8 June to 25 August 2019

Open every day except Monday, from 12 to 6 pm


Children are central figures in family portraits, and they also form a separate subject for many seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painters, a subject that has lost none of its appeal to the twenty-first-century eye. By turns charming, demonstrative, tender, well-behaved or amusing, innocent or unbearably noisy, these children of the Golden Age create an astonishingly timeless gallery.


The exhibition includes drawings, prints and paintings, offering visitors a wide-ranging overview of the subject of the representation of children in seventeenth-century Holland and Flanders.

Nicolaes Maes (Dordrecht 1634 – 1693 Amsterdam), Portrait of a Girl with a Deer, ca. 1680
Oil on canvas. – 58 × 49 cm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2011-S.3

Individual portraits of children predominate: from the charming girl by Nicolaes Maes, to the iconic effigy of Hugo Grotius who, from the height of his sixteen years of age, already surveys the world with a serious gaze; from little Jenneken busy writing, drawn in red chalk by her brother Harmen ter Borch, to the delightful portrait that Hendrick Goltzius engraved of the son of one of his best friends. These last three portraits represent children who can be identified by the inscriptions they bear; other depictions however – like the one painted by Nicolaes Maes – contain no identification of the model.

Govert Flinck (Cleves 1615 – 1660 Amsterdam), Sleeping child,1643
Pen and brown ink, light brown wash. – 165 × 148 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 7368

Artists often portrayed children while they are sleeping. Sleep is a state that occurs regularly with all children, and it is no surprise to see Frans van Mieris’ drawing of Willem Paets, the son of one of his friends, asleep in his cradle. In the drawing by Govert Flinck, one of Rembrandt’s best students, we have a magnificent study, almost certainly drawn from life, of a sleeping boy. Here, the innocence and vulnerability of childhood are strikingly represented.

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606 Leiden – 1669 Amsterdam), Woman with a Child on her lap, ca. 1645-1650
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash and half dry brush or finger. – 162 × 128 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2143

Rembrandt also frequently drew and etched children, often as they interacted with women (mothers, grandmothers, nurses), or with the features of the young apprentices in his workshop.

In addition to these well-known sheets, the exhibition also contains a large number of items from the Fondation Custodia’s collection which have never been shown before, as well as some recent acquisitions. The way Dutch and Flemish artists of the 17th century looked at children and childhood offers today’s viewer both a glimpse into a bygone era and a mirror for our own perceptions on the first years of life.



Practical Information


Fondation Custodia / Collection Frits Lugt
121, rue de Lille - 75007 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 05 75 19

Access by public transport

Metro: Assemblée Nationale (line 12) or Invalides (lines 8 and 13)
RER C: Invalides or Musée d’Orsay
Bus: lines 63, 73, 83, 84, 94, Assemblée Nationale
Vélib’: station opposite (n° 7009)

Opening hours

Every day except Monday, from 12 to 6 pm

Admission charges

Admission charges 10 € (full) / 7 € (reduced)
The reduced rate is available to seniors (over 60), unemployed people, groups of at least 10 people

Free admission: students, press card, ICOM card, disabled person’s card

No online reservations


Possibility to visit the exhibitions Frans Hals. Family Portraits and Children of the Golden Age with a conference guide on the following dates (in French): Saturday 22 June at 12.30 pm, Friday 28 June at 12.30 pm, Saturday 6 July at 12.30 pm, Thursday 11 July at 12.30 pm, Tuesday 16 July at 12.30 pm.
Admission: price of the exhibition ticket
Reservation required:

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