Apparently unpublished, this striking and direct portrayal of a young man is a late work by Jordaens, who had already been active in Antwerp for some forty years by 1656, the date of this painting. In fact he had another twenty years to live; in 1671 he was reported to be still at work, living comfortably in the esteem of his fellow citizens in Antwerp.
Portraiture had not been a major element of his extensive production, although early in his career group portraits of his family were among his most notable masterpieces. The present work is likely to be the only portrait by the artist certainly executed in the 1650s, and may indeed be his last, coming after the more ambitious Marriage Portrait in The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
Here the sitter is depicted on the sinister (his left) side and may have still been unmarried. A pendant with the woman on the dexter side, may also have been painted. Indeed the man's gesture of placing his hand on his heart and the presence of the parrot, which Jordaens included in a number of his portraits and which sometimes had amorous as well as exotic associations, suggests that the work may have been commissioned to celebrate the sitter's betrothal.
The picture was probably acquired by the Moffatt family some time in the 19th century. Certainly from 1870 it was at Goodrich Court, which George Moffatt MP bought from the Meyrick family (Goodrich had been built by Edward Blore for Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick in 1828). Moffatt bought many of the furnishings and paintings already at Goodrich, so it may have come from the Meyricks. It could equally be something he bought at a sale: two of the pictures at Goodrich, for example, came from the Christie's sale at Stowe in 1848. Fig. 2 shows the picture in the Octagon Room at Goodrich during the War years, when Goodrich became the temporary home of Felsted School which had been evacuated from Essex.
Goodrich Court passed from George to Harold Moffatt and thence to his daughter Dorothy, who had married into the family of the mother of the present owner. Goodrich was demolished in 1949-50, but many of the contents went to nearby Hill Court (the contents of which were sold by Christie's in 1982).