Dordrecht 1616 – 1680 Amsterdam
Oil on panel: 25 1/4 x 20 1/8 inches
64 x 53 cm
Signed and dated lower right: FBol 164 Provenance: Private collection, France, until 1932
An unknown gentleman in black, his cape wrapped round his shoulders, addresses the beholder with an attentive gaze. His portrait imparts an air of gravitas, with the two tassels providing the only playful accent. The sitter’s starched-stiff white collar stands out against the black dress and dimly lit back wall and underlines the austere flavour.
In this portrait painted in 1649, Bol stands at the crossroads, skilfully exploiting the lessons he had learnt from his teacher Rembrandt while at the same time exploring a new pictorial language marked by an enhanced clarity of form and restrained elegance. Strongly reminiscent of Rembrandt is the dense and richly textured brushwork in the modelling of the face, achieving a powerful sense of presence. The bust formula keeping the sitter’s arms hidden under the draped mantle, however, reminds of classical sculpted busts and especially invokes comparison with the classicizing marble busts of Rombout Verhulst (1624-1698) portraying contemporary prominent figures, which Bol certainly new.