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Dutch School

circa 1610–20

Half-length Portrait of a Man, in an Oval Frame. Pen and brown ink on parchment. 10 x 6.5 cm.

The face, hairstyle and clothing of the man, who is about forty years old, are rendered with delicate strokes of the pen. He fixes the viewer with a proud, slightly challenging gaze. The hairstyle of the fashionably dressed man strongly resembles that on a portrait of Count Adolf of Nassau-Siegen of about the same size, which Crispijn de Passe the Elder made shortly before 1608 (Rijksprentenkabinet Amsterdam, inv. no. RP-T- 1939–85). However, Crispijn’s portrait, executed in pen and brush, is more refined and subtly captured, so his authorship of the present work can be ruled out. Thanks to Karel van Mander, we know it was common practice in the Netherlands in the late 16th and early 17th century to have miniature portraits drawn, even by such renowned artists as Hendrick Goltzius, for example. In addition, there must have been quite a large group of lesser-known artists who made their living this way. Hence, the present small portrait is a characteristic document of the time.                            

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