Albert Blankert situated FB-105 among the last of Bol’s tronies executed in the mid-1650s, following Hofstede de Groot’s dating of ca. 1655. Blankert based his tronie description on the work’s single-figure, half-length composition and the fancy, exotic costume worn by the sitter. He noted how Bol’s modeling of the form and careful attention to the various textures in FB-105 relate to the large-scale history paintings that Bol produced in the 1650s. Although Blankert argued that FB-105 exhibits an ease in handling that is not apparent in Bol’s paintings from the 1640s, it bears the strongest similarities in character and composition to the portraits and self-portraits that Bol produced during that decade. The individuality of the sitter, the exceptional character of his dress, and his forthright pose suggest a commissioned portrait. For a discussion of the possible identity of the sitter, see below. For Blankert’s discussion of FB-105 in the context of his tronies, see Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), 57–59, 66–67, no. 66. Questions surrounding Bol’s portraits and tronies have a long history in the scholarship on the artist. For a more recent discussion of Bol’s work in this context, see Dagmar Hirschfelder, Tronie und Porträt in der niederländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts (Berlin, 2008), 136–37, 277–82.
The same contemporary red cloak appears in a number of Bol’s paintings, including the Leiden Collection’s Self-Portrait, behind a Parapet (FB-107); Self-Portrait, 1646, oil on canvas, 102 x 85.5 cm, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht (see below, and FB-107, fig. 3); and Self-Portrait, ca. 1669, oil on canvas, 128 x 104 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
See Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), 56–70.
Bol often combined old-fashioned and contemporary dress in his tronies and self-portraits, as discussed in the essay for FB-107, but, to my knowledge, he did not do so in formal portraits.
Marieke de Winkel discusses the oriental fashion of diagonal fastening in regard to Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait from 1658 in The Frick Collection, New York (oil on canvas, 133.7 x 103.8 cm). Under a bright yellow pleated garment with a horizontal neckline and a brocaded neck cloth, Rembrandt wears a diagonally fastened white garment, joining sixteenth-century European and oriental fashions. De Winkel suggests that Rembrandt may have also looked to a portrait print of Maarten Ryckaert, published in Anthony van Dyck’s Iconographie in 1645, in which the artist wears Polish attire—a fur-lined outer gown and a diagonally fastened kaftan tied at the waist. It is possible that Bol was also familiar with this print when he executed FB-105. It is worth noting that Man in a Fur-Trimmed Hat shares Rembrandt’s striking frontal pose in this image. See Marieke de Winkel, Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt’s Paintings (Amsterdam, 2006), 183–86. For Polish costume, see Irena Turnau, History of Dress in Central and Eastern Europe from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century (Warsaw, 1991), particularly 71–78.
Fur hats were commonly cited in seventeenth-century Dutch inventories, along with the fur-trimmed tabbaard. See Marieke de Winkel, Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt’s Paintings (Amsterdam, 2006), 29–30.
For a discussion of the costume worn by Ruts, see Marieke de Winkel, Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt’s Paintings (Amsterdam, 2006), 26–32. A similar fur hat appears in a painting attributed to Rembrandt’s workshop, Man with a Fur Hat, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel.
See Marieke de Winkel, Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt’s Paintings (Amsterdam, 2006), 28–29, 277 n 16.
Bol was especially influenced by Rembrandt’s 1640 Self-Portrait (oil on canvas, 102 x 80 cm, National Gallery, London), which served as a model for the younger artist on a number of occasions. See Bol’s Portrait of a Man, ca. 1645, oil on canvas, 87.5 x 72.5 cm, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek, Munich. For Bol’s reliance on Rembrandt’s prototype, see the essays for FB-100 and FB-107.
Young Man with a Sword, ca. 1650, oil on canvas, 204 x 130 cm, The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio; Man with Helmet, ca. 1655, oil on canvas, 72.5 x 62.5 cm, Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw; Standing Oriental, ca. 1665, oil on canvas mounted on wood, 131 x 102 cm, Milwaukee Art Museum. See Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), nos. 72, 74–75.
Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), no. 69. For the relationship of this work to the tradition of scholarly portraits, see the essay for FB-100.
The similarities in costume between these two paintings suggest that they may have been created within a few years of each other. For the dating of FB-105, see below. A fur hat also appears on Eliezer’s knee in FB-106.
Similarly, see Portrait of a Man, ca. 1644, oil on canvas, 96 x 79 cm, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main.
Self-Portrait, 1646, oil on canvas, 102 x 85.5 cm, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht (see the essay for FB-107, fig. 3). See Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), no. 60. In FB-105, Bol opened the angle of the figure’s arm, making the gesture more direct than in the earlier work, whereas the gesture is reversed in the Portrait of a Gentleman (fig. 2). For the significance of this gesture in self-portraiture, and particularly in regard to the Dordrecht portrait, see Hans Joachim Raupp, Untersuchungen zu Kunstlerbildnis und Kunstlerdarstellung in den Niederländen im 17. Jahrhundert (Hildesheim, 1984), 262–64.
This dating is nearly ten years earlier than Albert Blankert’s dating of the mid-1650s. By the 1650s, Bol also changed his approach to portraiture. His figures, typically dressed in more reserved contemporary costume, are situated within a definable interior space, often holding an object or associated with a particular attribute.
The close similarities between Rembrandt’s and Bol’s portraits demonstrate the continuing influence that Rembrandt had on the younger artist, even after Bol left the master’s workshop.
Bol increasingly attracted an elite clientele in the late 1640s and 1650s, and it is conceivable that a wealthy fur trader was among his patrons. The tradition of a merchant being depicted in his wares went back to the sixteenth century, as seen in Dirck Jacobsz’s Portrait of Pompejus Occo, 1531, oil on panel, 66.5 x 65 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. In this work, Occo, who was active in the Baltic as a trader, is shown wearing a fur-trimmed tabbaard of costly lynx. See Marieke de Winkel, Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt’s Paintings (Amsterdam, 2006), 28–29.
There may be a horizontal seam across the narrow section of fabric (located 28 cm down from the upper edge, at the height of the figure’s eyes). If this is the case, the support is composed of three sections of medium-weight, plain-weave fabric (see X-radiograph). The painting was examined on-site with no stereomicroscope. Magnification provided by 5X Optivisor.