After his return to the Netherlands in 1624, van Bijlert’s early works reflect this caravaggesque influence, but by the 1630s he began to adopt a more classicizing style. Dr. Paul Huys Janssen, author of the definitive monograph on Jan van Bijlert, has dated the present painting to this later period of the artist’s career, between 1635-1645.1 The overall lighter color palette and clarity of the work are characteristic of the artist’s classical style. Although mainly a painter of history and genre subjects, van Bijlert excelled as a portraitist and painted at least 45 portraits throughout his career. His patrons included wealthy burgomasters and nobles, notably members of the Strick van Linschoten family. The sitter of this handsome portrait wears a purple doublet over a white shirt with billowing sleeves, and a voluminous black cloak. It has been speculated that the sitter might be a poet, possibly the Dutch poet and physician Jacob Westerbaen (1599-1670), whose likeness at a more mature age is known from a print by Cornelis Visscher (after a lost portrait by Jan de Bray).
1. Private correspondence, 1 February 2009.
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