• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2795

    Old Master Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker

    14 November 2007, Amsterdam

  • Lot 26

    Thomas de Keyser (Amsterdam 1596-1667)

    Portrait of a young man, full-length, in a black costume and hat, standing amongst classical sulpture, a landscape beyond

    Price Realised  


    Thomas de Keyser (Amsterdam 1596-1667)
    Portrait of a young man, full-length, in a black costume and hat, standing amongst classical sulpture, a landscape beyond
    signed and dated 'TDK 1648' (TDK linked, lower right)
    oil on panel
    71 x 55.9 cm.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Portrait of a young man is one of a number of paintings of architects, sculptors and engineers that de Keyser painted in the 1640s, when he joined his brother Pieter in the trade of building stone and marble. This image of a young man in an Italianate landscape surrounded by classical sculpture and architectural elements speaks to the continuing importance of Italy in the education of artists and architects in the seventeenth century Netherlands. He stands in a kind of portico flanked by two monumental columns cast in shadow. An upturned Corinthian and fragmentary Ionic capital litter the foreground, two iconic examples of classical sculpture appear in the middleground, and a stormy sky and mountainous landscape open up in the distance. This is no study collection of plaster casts but a romantic image of a young Dutchman on his Italian sojourn.

    The Farnese Hercules, seen from the back on the right, was one of the most famous sculptures from antiquity and would have been instantly recognizable to viewers of de Keyser's portrait. The Farnese collection was one of the most famous private collections in Rome due in large part to the find of the Hercules on the family's property in the 1550s. It was initially displayed inside the palazzo but by the seventeenth century had moved into the courtyard where it stayed until 1787 when it entered the collection of the Museo Nazionale in Naples. Private collections such as that of the Farnese were made available to visiting artists of a certain standing and Hendrick Goltzius' engraving of around 1592 captures something of the impact that it made on those northern artists who were fortunate enough to see it. Goltzius depicts the Hercules from the back, as does de Keyser in his portrait, and two young men, the artist's companions, stand at its base looking up at the figure in awe. Rubens' numerous drawings of the Farnese Hercules reflect his intense interest in this sculpture and its impact can be seen in his masculine figures throughout his career (see M. van der Meulen, Rubens Copies after the Antique, 1994, vol. II, no. 14-24, pp. 40-8).

    The half-draped female figure to the left is more difficult to identify. By 1648 the Palazzo Farnese had been uninhabited for over twenty years, since the death of Cardinal Odoardo in 1626. The lack of early inventories has made a reconstruction of the collection at its height impossible and only fragmentary inventories of the collection from the 1640s exist. A Crouching Venus from the Farnese collection (Naples, Museo Archaeologico) was recorded in the drawings of Marten van Heemskerk and both Goltzius and Rubens made drawings of a fully clothed standing female figure in the collection known as Flora. A group of drawings after Rubens in Copenhagen of a similarly half-draped Venus indicate that there was one of this type available to visiting artists in Rome and de Keyser could have known it from any number of sources in the Netherlands, among them the Roman sketchbooks of artists such as Heemskerk or Frans Floris and publications such as Philip Rubens' Electorum Libri II published in Antwerp in 1608. The inclusion of the little-known Venus alongside the Hercules suggests that the scene is not intended as an image of the Farnese collection but is a composite of various sources that, when combined, create a plausible Italianate context. De Keyser's quotation of a well known work such as the Farnese Hercules, moreover, transforms the painting from a momento of travel to a manifesto of learning.

    There is no evidence that de Keyser ever visited Italy but he would have been surrounded by learned and well-travelled men from an early age. His father, Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621), was one of the most important sculptors and architects in the early seventeenth-century Netherlands. He designed the famous tomb of Willem the Silent in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft and was responsible for such important buildings in Amsterdam as the Zuiderkerk, the Westerkerk, and the Exchange, for which he travelled to London in 1606 to study the Royal Exchange. Thomas and his brothers maintained the family's ties with England through their trade in building materials and his younger brother Willem lived in London together with his sister and brother-in-law for almost twenty years. Contact with English court portraiture may have inspired his use of the small-scale full-length format of works such as Portrait of a Young Man.

    Special Notice

    Christie’s charges a premium to the buyer on the Hammer Price of each lot sold at the following rates: 29.75% of the Hammer Price of each lot up to and including €5,000, plus 23.8% of the Hammer Price between €5,001 and €400,000, plus 14.28% of any amount in excess of €400,001. Buyer’s premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually.


    Hendrick Bredeman; his sale; Philippus van der Schley and others, Amsterdam, 1 July 1788, lot 91, as T. de Keyzer to Fouquet (Dfl 18).
    with Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1926.
    Looted by the Nazi authorities, July 1940.
    Recovered by the Allies, 1945.
    in the custody of the Dutch Government.
    Restituted in February 2006 to the heir of Jacques Goudstikker.


    C. Wright, Paintings in Dutch Museums. An Index of Oil Paintings in Public Collections in The Netherlands by Artists born before 1870, London, 1980, p. 211.
    A. Adams Jensen, The Paintings of Thomas de Keyser (1596/7-1667). A Study of Portraiture in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam, Cambridge, 1985, III, p. 145, no. 83.
    Old Master Paintings: An illustrated summary catalogue, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst (The Netherlandish Office for the Fine Arts), The Hague, 1992, p. 160, no. 1318, illustrated.
    B. Schwarz, Hitlers Museum. Die Fotoalben Gemäldegalerie Linz: Dokumente zum 'Führermuseum', Vienna/Cologne/Weimar, 2004, p. 107, p. 225, no. III/19c.


    The Hague, Schilderkundig Genootschap Pulchri Studio, Catalogue de la Collection Goudstikker d'Amsterdam, 13 March-4 April 1926, no. 86, illustrated.
    Rotterdam, Rotterdamsche Kunstkring, Catalogue de la Collection Goudstikker d'Amsterdam, 10 April 1926, no. 53, illustrated.
    New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pictures looted from Holland and returned through the efforts of the U.S. Armed Forces, October 1947, no. 22, illustrated, as 'Attributed to Thomas de Keyser, but probably by Michael Sweerts'.
    Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Drie eeuwen portret in Nederland 1500-1800, 1952.
    's-Hertogenbosch, Noordbarbants museum; Heino, Kasteeel het Nijenhuis; and Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, Herinneringen aan Italië. Kunst en toerisme in de 18de eeuw, 1984, p. 98, cat. no. 1, illustated, p. 84.
    Groningen, Groninger Museum voor stad en lande, on loan.