Lot 5
  • 5

Joos van Cleve

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Joos van Cleve
  • Portrait of a man, half length, in a black cap and a fur-trimmed coat
  • oil on panel, arched top


Ulrike von Levetzow, Berlin;
Her sale, Berlin, Lepke, 20 November 1900, lot 60, as by the 'Master of the Death of the Virgin';
Sulzbach collection, Paris, 1920;
With Paul Bottenwieser, Berlin, 1928;
R. Makower, New York, 1950;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 14 June 1961, as 'Joost van Cleve';
Dr Hans Wetzlar, Amsterdam;
Wetzlar sale, 1977, lot 79, when bought back for 230,000 guilders.


Paris, Olympia, 1928;
Laren, 1966, no. 13.


L. Baldass, Joos van Cleve, Vienna 1925, p. 22, no. 39;
M.J. Friedländer, Die Altniederländische Malerei, vol. IX, Berlin 1931, pp. 52, 140, no. 83, reproduced plate 45;
M.J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. IX, Leiden 1972, pp. 34, 67-8, no. 83, reproduced plate 99;
J.O. Hand, Joos van Cleve.  The Early and Mature Paintings, diss., Princeton 1978, pp. 146, 298, no. 26, reproduced fig. 34;
Voorkeuren, p. 24, reproduced p. 25;
J.O. Hand, Joos van Cleve.  The Complete Paintings, New Haven & London 2004, pp. 61, 127, no. 25, reproduced p. 63, fig. 63.


"The following condition report has been provided by Sarah Walden, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting is on a fine oak panel with an arched top, which has been cradled quite long ago and has a narrow border strip added all round. There is one joint at left of centre, which has been reglued, presumably at the same time as the panel work, and the restoration may also have been from that period, or slightly later. Under UV there is no recent retouching and the old varnish and retouching is quite opaque and irregular. The green of the background is beautifully preserved in the darker shadows with a fine even craquelure, but thin in the lighter parts with some fairly broad patches of retouching. This could have been the result of the mistaken removal of copper resinate that had become brown naturally, in the misapprehension that it was old varnish. The blacks seem to have rather older varnish remaining and it is quite dim and hard to discern the condition, but the brocaded blacks of the inner sleeves are magnificently intact. The fine white shirt is also perfectly preserved, and the hands are in rather good condition, with a little warm retouching glazed across the surface especially near each thumb. This film of warm retouching overlaid across the surface is also present in the face, particularly around the left eye and cheek, although it is possible to see the underlying craquelure in many places suggesting that there are no actual damages, and glimpses of the lighter original can be seen in places for instance by the side of the nostril or at the hairline. The features seem slightly frail but are largely unretouched and the further side of the face has scarcely any retouching. The fundamental power and delicacy of the portrait overall remains strong, as does the pure intact drawing. This report was not done under laboratory conditions."
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This is one of a relatively small number of portraits that are universally accepted as autograph works by Joos van Cleve.  John Hand, who was able to inspect it at first hand in Amsterdam on 1st February 1972, considers it and another portrait of an anonymous sitter in San Francisco to be among Van Cleve's earliest surviving portraits.1  In his text he dates them both circa 1517-18, by comparison with the pendant marriage portraits of Joris Vezeleer and Margarethe Boghe, which can be dated to the year of their wedding in 1518, and which he sees as very slightly later in date (however, in his catalogue raisonné he dates them circa 1518-20).  Both the Wetzlar and San Francisco portraits depict young men with their heads turned to the left, and Hand notes that in both the artist `has captured their soft unformed features and something of the wistful hesitancy of youth'.  Friedländer has also dated it circa 1518, while Baldass gave it a broader dating.  All of Van Cleve's early portraits show the sitters half-length with their hands showing, and with a modulation of light and shade giving depth to the green background.  Most are on panels with arched tops, in marked contrast with his later portraits, all of which were painted on rectangular panels.

1.  Oil on panel, 32.5 by 22.8 cm.; San Francisco, Fine Arts Museums; Hand, op. cit., pp. 127, reproduced p. 63, fig. 62.