Art Collections Online

Portrait of a Man

HEEMSKERCK, Maerten van (1498 - 1574)

Portrait of a Man

Media: oil on panel

Size: 39.4 x 31.0 cm

Acquired: 1985; Purchase

Accession Number: NMW A 234

This unknown man in his fur-lined coat is clearly wealthy.  Van Heemskerck has carefully observed the details of the sitter’s sober expression, dark hair and prominent eyebrows.  Behind him is a loosely painted landscape reminiscent of the ancient frescoes the artist would have seen when he studied in Rome.  The sitters probably came from Haarlem, where van Heemskerck trained and later settled.   A pupil of Jan van Scorel, Heemskerck spent the years 1532-35 in Rome where he made a systematic study of ancient Roman remains. After his return to the Netherlands he worked in Haarlem, specialising in flamboyant paintings and prints of religious themes and classical allegories. His portraits, such as this work of about 1540 and its pendant, have a sober naturalism which stems from the fifteenth-century Netherlandish tradition of Jan van Eyck and Robert Campin.

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