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This painting is likely a self-portrait of the artist. Glancing back over his shoulder, the artist’s pose takes inspiration from contemporary portraits by Flemish painters Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) and Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). The artist has been able to create this pose by looking back into a mirror in which to observe his own features. While the face is detailed and carefully studied, sketchy brushstrokes are used elsewhere, giving this portrait an unfinished quality.

The identity of the artist remains as yet unclear. It has previously been regarded as a self-portrait by Jan Lievens (1607-74), a Dutch painter known for his character studies, formal portraits, and landscapes. The style of the painting, however, suggests a painter of Flemish origin. Jan Cossiers (1600-71) has been suggested as a possible artist, a painter who developed a free and fluid style of brushwork while working for Rubens in Antwerp in the 1630s. Cossiers painted images showing daily life and also became one of Antwerp’s leading religious painters.

Currently on display

Flemish or Dutch School
17 century
Gallery 10
62.2 x 48.9 cm
Oil on panel
Fairfax Murray Gift, 1917
Accession number