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Jacob Adriaensz. Backer (Harlingen 1608-1651 Amsterdam)
Jacob Adriaensz. Backer (Harlingen 1608-1651 Amsterdam)

Portrait of a gentleman, half-length, in a black coat with a white collar and cuffs, wearing a black hat, a glove in his right hand, before a column and a red curtain

Details
Jacob Adriaensz. Backer (Harlingen 1608-1651 Amsterdam)
Portrait of a gentleman, half-length, in a black coat with a white collar and cuffs, wearing a black hat, a glove in his right hand, before a column and a red curtain
signed in monogram 'JA B.' ('JA' linked, upper left)
oil on canvas
38 x 30 in. (96.5 x 76.2 cm.)
Provenance
Dr. Ernest Tross, Los Angeles; Sotheby’s, New York, 28 June 1982, lot 14 ($2,100).
Private collection, California.
Anonymous sale; Bonhams, London, 5 December 2012, lot 101 (£103,250).
Literature
P. van den Brink et. al., Jacob Backer (1608/9-1651), Amsterdam and Aachen, 2008, p. 158, note 3, p. 164, note 4, p. 171, note 10, fig. 1, and p. 246, no. A122.
J.P.F. Kok, Dutch paintings of the seventeenth century in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2013, p. 193, note 543.

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Lot Essay

Jacob Adriaensz. Backer initially trained in Amsterdam before moving to Leeuwarden in 1626/7 to study in the workshop of the history painter Lambert Jacobsz. (c.1592-1637) at the same time as Govaert Flinck. By 1633 he had settled back in Amsterdam, when he won the important commission for the group portrait The Governesses of the Civic Orphanage of Amsterdam (Amsterdams Historisch Museum, Amsterdam). While some influence of Rembrandt’s style can be seen in Backer’s works, unlike Flinck, he did not fall directly under his spell. Instead, he adopted a lighter, more spontaneous approach to portraiture that seems to have been inspired by Flemish artists such as Cornelis de Vos (1583/4-1651).

Backer became one of the most sought-after portraitists in Amsterdam in the 1630s and 1640s. Peter van den Brink, to whom we are grateful for confirming the attribution, after inspection of the original, and for his help in cataloguing this lot, notes that the work can be dated to between 1647 and 1650, both by stylistic comparison but also because of the distinctive hat of the sitter, which was only in fashion for a short time. While the dimensions, style and type are wholly in keeping with the Portrait of Geertruyd Hasselaer (Veen and Brink, op. cit., no. A123; Netherlands, Private Collection), this is unlikely to be its pendant as the proportions of the figures differ too substantially. Furthermore, it would most likely have had a pendant with a draped curtain in its left side of the composition, such as the Portrait of Machtelt Bas and Portrait of Abraham de Visscher (the latter unfinished; both Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum). These portraits, dated circa 1651, are similarly characterised by an objective rendering of the subject, concentrating on the accurate representation of his sitters.

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