When this painting was sold at Sotheby’s in London on 4 December 2008, no. 144, it was identified as: “Dutch School,” ca. 1640–50.
Records at the Frick Art Reference Library, which note that the painting was once in the collection of Thomas Giffard, Chillington Hall, describe it as “Netherlandish school: Portrait of an Artist,” and alternatively, “attributed, with question, to Frans van Mieris the Elder; possibly a youthful self-portrait.” In 2009 Jack Kilgore suggested an attribution to Jacob van Velsen (ca. 1597–1656), a Delft artist who depicted an artist in his studio on several occasions (correspondence in the Leiden Collection). However, the Leiden Collection painting seems to bear little resemblance to Van Velsen’s work, nor does it appear to embody the artistic traditions of Delft. For Van Velsen, see Walter Liedtke, ed., Vermeer and the Delft School (Exh. cat. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) (New Haven, 2001), 349–51. The 2008 Sotheby’s catalogue states that this painting resembles works by the Rotterdam artists Hendrick Maertensz Sorgh, Cornelis Saftleven, and Jan Olis, as well as a self-portrait by the Flemish artist David Teniers the Younger. See, for example, Cornelis Saftleven, Self-Portrait before an Easel, 1629, 31 x 23 cm., Paris, Musée du Louvre; and David Teniers the Younger, Self-Portrait, Vienna, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Künste. For a discussion of artist self-portraits produced during this period, see Hans-Joachim Raupp, Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnis und Künstlerdarstellung in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert (Hildesheim, 1984), 234–36, nos. 141, 143, 144.
For this work and Dou’s place in Leiden, see Ronni Baer, Gerrit Dou, 1613–1675: Master Painter in the Age of Rembrandt, ed. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. (Exh. cat. Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art; London, Dulwich Picture Gallery; The Hague, Mauritshuis) (New Haven, 2000), no. 7.
I would like to thank Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. for his guidance in discussing this work, and for suggesting its possible attribution to Cornelis Bisschop. Guido Jansen kindly brought my attention to the auction catalogue of the Leiden burgomaster, Johan van der Marck Aegidiusz, an auction that occurred in Amsterdam on 25 August 1773. This sale contained 98 self-portraits of Leiden artists, but I was not able to locate the Leiden Collection painting.
See Arnold Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlandse konstschilders en schilderessen, 3 vols. (Amsterdam, 1718–21; rev. ed., The Hague, 1753; reprint, Amsterdam, 1980), 2:220.
Bisschop’s paintings were acquired by King Louis XIV of France, and he was invited to become court painter for the Danish king, but he was never able to fulfill that role because of illness that led to his early death. See Arnold Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlandse konstschilders en schilderessen, 3 vols. (Amsterdam, 1718–21; rev. ed., The Hague, 1753; reprint, Amsterdam, 1980), 2:221–22.
For an account of the story of Parrhasius and Zeuxis as it relates to Gerrit Dou, see Ronni Baer, Gerrit Dou, 1613–1675: Master Painter in the Age of Rembrandt, ed. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. (Exh. cat. Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art; London, Dulwich Picture Gallery; The Hague, Mauritshuis) (New Haven, 2000), 20.
It is interesting that the Detroit painting was also formerly attributed to Frans van Mieris the Elder, and that the sitter is likewise portrayed within an arched format.
The characterization of the wood is based on Ian Tyers’s dendrochronology report.
According to Ian Tyers’s dendrochronology report.