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MICHAELINA WAUTIER (MONS 1604-C. 1689 BRUSSELS)
MICHAELINA WAUTIER (MONS 1604-C. 1689 BRUSSELS)
MICHAELINA WAUTIER (MONS 1604-C. 1689 BRUSSELS)
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MICHAELINA WAUTIER (MONS 1604-C. 1689 BRUSSELS)
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PROPERTY OF A LADY
MICHAELINA WAUTIER (MONS 1604-C. 1689 BRUSSELS)

Head of a boy

Details
MICHAELINA WAUTIER (MONS 1604-C. 1689 BRUSSELS)
Head of a boy
oil on canvas
16 7/8 x 13 ¼ in. (41.7 x 33.6 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 3 December 2008, lot 203, as 'Circle of the Le Nain Brothers' (£30,000), when acquired by the present owner.

Brought to you by

Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

An artist now feted as the outstanding female painter of the Flemish baroque, it is only in the last few years that Michaelina Wautier’s oeuvre has received the attention it deserves. As recently as 2008, when this charming portrayal of a boy last appeared at auction, her artistic personality was little known and certainly under-appreciated. This picture can now be firmly rehabilitated into her oeuvre having been recognised by Katlijne van der Stighelen as a new discovery.
Michaelina made a speciality out of depicting children, with a naturalness and a sensibility that none of her male counterparts could match. Fresh-faced, with tumbling hair, the boy in this work evinces the immediacy and informality of a character study painted from life. He is shown bust-length, looking over his right shoulder, out of the corner of his eyes, as if reacting spontaneously to something out of the picture.
The premise for this kind of observational study may well have been initiated by Michaelina’s contemporary Michiel Sweerts (1618-1664), who re-appeared in Brussels in circa 1655 after a ten year sojourn in Rome, bringing with him a host of new pictorial ideas. While there is no documentary evidence to shed light on the relationship between the two artists, the resonances found in their paintings of children in this period suggest they must have been familiar with each other’s work. Sweert’s Portrait of a Boy in the Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, or another in a private collection, for example, both adopt the same tightly cropped composition and transitory pose as the present work (fig. 1; R. Kultzen, Michiel Sweerts, Doornspijk, 1996, nos. 96 and 94).
We are grateful to Katlijne van der Stighelen for confirming the attribution on the basis of photographs and tentatively suggesting a date in the mid-1650s.

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