The Van der Capellen family played an important role in the political life of the 17th century Dutch republic. Several of its members represented the nobility of Guelders in the States General. Alexander, born in Arnhem as the son of Gerlach van der Capellen and Margaretha Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, was a member of the Raad van State and of the Generaliteits Rekenkamer. He recorded his observations on the vicissitudes of the Dutch republic in a diary that was published by a descendant in the 18th century (Gedenkschriften van Jonkheer Alexander van der Capellen, 2 vols., 1777-1778, with introductory biography). Alexander and Emilia married on 6th August 1626 in Zutphen. The present family portrait was painted many years later when their son was aged 24.
We are grateful to W. van de Watering for identifying the hardly-known painter of this portrait: Ferdinandus Wes (or West). He is recorded as entering the painter's guild of The Hague in 1637 and as one of the founding members of the Confraternity Pictura in 1656 (See A. Bredius, Knstler-Inventäre, 1917, vol.4, p.1318). Until now only one portrait of Wes was known, sold at Roos & Co, Amsterdam, 12 December 1915 (photograph at the RKD, The Hague).