This painting dates from early in Jan Weenix’s career, when he was primarily concerned with the production of Italianate harbour scenes. These were greatly influenced by the works of his father, Jan Baptist Weenix (1621-1659), under whom he trained. Alongside Jan Both and Jan Asselijn, Jan Baptist Weenix was among the leading Dutch Italianate painters of the mid-17th century. He was celebrated for harbour scenes featuring ruins and monuments, populated by contemporary Dutch figures. His son, Jan, was guided by such works, yet also adapted them in his own style and added other figure types.
Here Weenix presents an elegant well-dressed family posing before a neoclassical marble portico. The building is grand, featuring a classical marble urn and statue. The mother and father hold flowers, which they playfully present to their youngest child. A maid carrying a platter of fruit descends the stairs on the left, while on the right the family’s son approaches. Accompanied by his dogs, he has just returned from a hunt and is shown holding up a pair of dead hares. Beyond the family group is a bucolic scene of shepherds, travellers, and sheep. Even further into the distance, Weenix includes the harbour itself, with large ships coming into port.
There is only one other known group portrait set in a harbour by Jan Weenix: Family Group in a Southern Harbour of 1670 (Private collection). Both works relate to Jan Baptist Weenix’s Family in a Mediterranean Seaport (London, Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood), a picture from the 1650s which bears similarities in its composition.