Carel Willink (1900-1983) painted portraits of all of his wives, inviting the four women to pose for paintings with narrative or allegorical (symbolic) undertones. Wilma Jeuken (1905-1960), Willink’s second wife, with whom he had the longest marriage, features most often in his work. Wilma posed for... Resting Venus.
Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, has been depicted by countless artists over the centuries. Willink’s version points to the early-16th-century Italian tradition, in which the female nude is shown seductively, in all her splendour. Preferably in a seductive landscape, as seen in the works of Titian (1488/90-1576) and Giorgione (1473-1510).
And yet Wilma is not laying comfortably on cloth or in lush grass; she leans uneasily backwards on unsympathetic ground. And she is sooner a wiry sportswoman than a voluptuous 16th-century Italian goddess out to seduce the viewer; she does not even meet our gaze. In this painting, Willink appears to be ironically criticising the classical portrayal of Venus as the height of erotic allure. The artist has used a single stroke of a fan brush to add the fine white lines on the legs.