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Paintings of paintings of paintings

May 24, 2018


A curious chapter in art history is the sudden fad for meta-paintings that blew up in Belgium in the 17th century.

If you were a wealthy, fashionable member of Antwerp’s cognoscenti living in the 1620s, you not only owned paintings—you owned paintings of paintings.


In some cases you might even acquire paintings of paintings of paintings, as in the case of this picture gallery painting attributed to Hieronymus II Francken …


I tried to enhance but that’s the highest resolution I could find (and the original is in some private collection). But there is obviously some potential for a cool, hyper-dimensional Droste effect, like the gif I made below.

It’s actually an offshoot from a li’l side project I’ve been wasting time on about recursion. It’s made with this nifty little ImageMagick script by Mark Setchell.


h/t Alexander Marr for his neat explainer, “The Flemish ‘Pictures of Collections’ Genre: An Overview” ($)

One Comment

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  1. alexandermarr #
    June 19, 2018

    Hi. Thanks for the hat tip! This is a very cool gif! Can I share it with my students, please? Alex Marr

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