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To be in love like Marten and Oopjen

At the age of 28, Rembrandt painted the infatuated couple Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. The paintings were created in 1634, just a year after 23-year-old Oopjen and 21-year-old Marten were married. In this blog we'll explain the story behind these paintings of the couple Marten and Oopjen.

The story behind the couple

In 2023, it doesn't take a lot of money or effort to capture your favourite memories. In the 17th century, things weren’t quite as easy. If you had enough money, you'd have your portrait painted. These portraits usually showed everything from the chest up, for example think of the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer. Only really rich people like Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, could afford to have full-length portraits made. At the age of 13, Marten inherited a successful sugar factory from his father Jan Soolmans. Oopjen came from a family that had made their fortune trading grain and gunpowder.

The beauty ideal of the 17th century

Oopjen and Marten married on the 28th June 1633 and had their first child not long after. Oopjen and Marten went on to have three children: Hendrick, Jan and Cornelia Soolmans. You can see that Oopjen is pregnant in her painting. It was important to showcase the beauty standards of the 17th century in these paintings. The couple had to appear pale because this showed they had enough money that they didn't need to work on farms and in the sunshine. The couple was also wearing a hat and a veil to protect themselves from the sun. Their clothes were made of expensive black satin fabric. The valuable jewellery signals the couple's wealth. Marten's glove symbolises his marriage to Oopjen.

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