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Man with a Fur-Trimmed Hat

Ferdinand Bol (Dordrecht 1616 – 1680 Amsterdam)
ca. 1646–48
oil on canvas
100 x 79.5 cm
inventory number

Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Man with a Fur-Trimmed Hat” (2017). In The Leiden Collection Catalogue, 4th ed. Edited by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. and Elizabeth Nogrady with Caroline Van Cauwenberge. New York, 2023–. (accessed July 13, 2024).

Although traditionally considered to be among the last in Ferdinand Bol’s series of character studies, or tronies, executed in the 1640s and 1650s, this three-quarter-length, exotically dressed male figure bespeaks a formal portrait. Wearing a fur-trimmed hat and a brown jacket accented by a mustard colored collar and sparkling golden highlights, the man raises his right hand toward the beholder in a rhetorical gesture. In the other he grasps a fur pelt, which nearly spills into the viewer’s space. Speckled black spots, which are softly rendered across the light brown pelt, fall into folds of light and shadow. A deep red cloak—a reoccurring element in Bol’s tronies and self-portraits—hangs down over his left shoulder so that only his thumb is visible beneath it. The sitter’s frontal, engaged pose and expectant expression distinguish this composition among Bol’s portraits.

The figure’s costume combines historicizing and contemporary elements. The golden brown jacket and the white shirt beneath it are both diagonally fastened around the man’s torso, which, as Marieke de Winkel has noted, was a style associated with sixteenth-century oriental clothing. Fur hats, although a common feature of men’s wardrobes in the seventeenth century, were rarely depicted in portraiture. Bol may have been inspired by Rembrandt’s 1631 Portrait of Nicolaes Ruts (), which represents the wealthy merchant in a similar fur-trimmed hat, along with a fur-trimmed tabbaard. Bol’s spotted fur pelt—probably sable—would have likewise been an extremely valuable item. Sable was exclusively imported from Russia, and its representation here, combined with the unusual, oriental-style jacket, is exceptional.

This inventive costume departs from the type of dress typically worn by sitters in Bol’s portraits, as well as in his tronies and self-portraits. Following the model provided by Rembrandt in works such as his 1640 Self-Portrait at the Age of 34 (), Bol depicted male figures wearing old-fashioned velvet berets and elegant cloaks, as in his Portrait of a Gentleman () and Portrait of a Man in Munich, both dated ca. 1645, and the Leiden Collection’s Man with a Book (FB-100) and Self-Portrait, behind a Parapet (FB-107). Although Bol occasionally rendered figures in oriental turbans and helmets, which similarly relied on Rembrandt’s example, there is no indication that these works were commissioned portraits. The only other figure that Bol portrayed so prominently in fur was the scholar in his Old Man with a Globe in the Hermitage (). This work, dated to around 1650, shows the elderly man wearing a fur-trimmed hat, a spotted fur-lined cloak, and a golden tunic that resembles the one depicted in Man with a Fur-Trimmed Hat.

The distinctive character of the Leiden Collection’s portrait broadly reflects Bol’s approach to portraiture in the second half of the 1640s. The painting’s bare, brown background, the artist’s use of chiaroscuro, and the frontal pose of the sitter correspond to works such as the Portrait of a Gentleman () and the Munich Portrait of a Man. Bol’s treatment of the composition and the posture of the figure, specifically the commanding frontal pose and outstretched hand, are seen in Self-Portrait in Dordrecht from 1646 and Portrait of a Gentleman (). These similarities suggest that Bol executed the Leiden Collection work during these same years, ca. 1646–48. A date in the mid- to late 1640s more closely situates the painting in the period following Bol’s training in Rembrandt’s workshop, reinforcing the probability that the master’s Portrait of Nicolaes Ruts () served as the model for this work. Although the identity of Bol’s sitter is unknown, the prominent display of fur in this portrait bolsters the argument that he was also involved in the fur trade.

- Lara Yeager-Crasselt, 2017
  • Private collection Scotland, by 1860.
  • [Lewis and Simmons, New York, by 1929].
  • Private collection, Forfar, Scotland, by 1938.
  • Private collection, Scotland, until 2009 [Johnny van Haeften Ltd., London, 2009].
  • From whom acquired by the present owner in 2009.
  • Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, on loan with the permanent collection, February 2014–February 2016 [lent by the present owner].
  • Beijing, National Museum of China, “Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection,” 17 June–3 September 2017 [lent by the present owner].
  • Shanghai, Long Museum, West Bund, “Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals in the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection,” 23 September 2017–25 February 2018 [lent by the present owner].
  • Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, “The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection,” 28 March 2018–22 July 2018 [lent by the present owner].
  • St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, “The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection,” 5 September 2018–13 January 2019 [lent by the present owner].
  • Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, “Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age. Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre,” 14 February–18 May 2019 [lent by the present owner].
  • Blankert, Albert.  Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680), Rembrandt’s Pupil.  Doornspijk, 1982, 59, 121, no. 66. Originally published as Ferdinand Bol, 1616–1680: een leerling van Rembrandt. The Hague, 1976.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Man with a Fur-Trimmed Hat.” In Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection. Edited by Lara Yeager-Crasselt, 60; 176, no. 20. Translated by Li Ying. Exh. cat. Beijing, National Museum of China. Beijing, 2017.
  • Long Museum, West Bund. Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals in the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection. Exh. cat. Shanghai, Long Museum, West Bund. Shanghai, 2017, 77.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Man with a Fur-Trimmed Hat.” In The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection. Edited by Polina Lyubimova, 70–71; 232 no. 2. Translated by Daria Babich and Daria Kuzina. Exh. cat. Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum. Moscow, 2018.
  • Ducos, Blaise, and Lara Yeager-Crasselt, eds. Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age. Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre. Exh. cat. Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi. London, 2019, 97, no. 29. [Exhibition catalogue also published in French and Arabic.]

The support is composed of two sections of medium-weight, plain-weave fabric joined with a vertical seam that passes through the figure’s proper left sleeve. The tacking margins have been removed and the support has been lined. Cusping is visible along the left edge only, and the right has a precisely cut edge, which indicates it may have been trimmed. There are no wax collection seals, import stamps, stencils, inscriptions or labels along the lining or stretcher reverse.

A light-colored ground has been thinly and evenly applied and remains visible through the thin passages of paint along the background, the curls of hair, and the drying cracks that have formed along the brown drapery folds along the left side of the composition. The paint has been smoothly applied with transparent glazes along the figure’s crimson cloak and with areas of low rounded brushwork along the gold details of the figure’s tabbaard. The light brown fur in the foreground has been painted wet-into-wet with wisps of dark brown paint applied over the top.

No underdrawing is readily apparent in infrared images captured at 780–1000 nanometers. The images reveal minor compositional changes to the fingertips and contours of the figure’s proper right hand.

The painting is unsigned and undated.

The painting was cleaned, lined, and restored circa 2009, at which time a compound tear along the lower left quadrant of the support was repaired. The painting remains in a good state of preservation.

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