de jonckheere old masters

Flemish School

Portrait of a gentleman

18,5 x 16 cm


An increased taste for portraits developed across Europe in the 16th century. Corneille de Lyon was an authority in this field, and this panel, attributed to a painter from the Flemish School active circa 1540, follows this tradition. Indeed, there are many similarities between this Portrait of a gentleman and certain works by Corneille de Lyon: the face stands out from the plain green background which enhances the complexion, as is typical of this artist, and the subject is turned slightly to the right in this head and shoulders view, with his face lit from the left. In addition, the choice of dark clothing - to avoid distracting our attention from the face - as well as the restricted palette, are characteristic of this painter, as is the painting's small format, which requires true technical skill.

The unidentified person portrayed is wearing a black garment corresponding to what an English or German gentleman might have worn, thus demonstrating the distribution and success of this type of depiction in the rest of Europe at the time. This dark attire, embellished only by a white collar framing the face, emphasises this figure's elegance. His black cap with a feather, whose finesse and precise detail illustrate the different textures, as well as his gold chain, bear witness to his social standing.

This portrait reveals a meticulous observation of the physiognomy and psychological characterisation of the character. His features, in particular the nose and the bags under his eyes, are delicately shaped by the shadows that create contours and depth, emphasised by the white highlights illuminating more prominent parts, such as the chin or the brow. His carefully trimmed beard is meticulously portrayed. The character gazes with dignity and gentlemanly reserve at the viewer, with a depth of expression rendered by the artist's remarkable skill. The red tints in the white of the eyes, as well as a white dot highlighting each iris, bring the portrait to life, as though the viewer could guess the gentleman's most inner thoughts. This Portrait of a gentleman incarnates both nobility and refinement, and accentuates the high rank of the subject. The elegant manner employed endows the subject with a natural grace, imbued with a complex psychological aspect, which can leave no viewer indifferent, even today.

Provenance :
Private collection, France