Lot 212
  • 212

MICHAEL SWEERTS | Portrait of a boy

60,000 - 80,000 USD
375,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Portrait of a boy
  • oil on canvas


With Thos. Agnew and Sons, London, 1979;
There acquired by the father of the present collector.


V. Bloch, 'Postskriptum zu Sweerts', in Album Amicorum J.G. van Gelder, The Hague 1973, p. 40, reproduced fig. 1;
R. Kultzen, Michael Sweerts, Doornspijk 1996, pp. 70-71 and 122, cat. no. 109, reproduced plate 109.

Catalogue Note

One of the most unusual, creative and enigmatic artists of the Baroque period, with a career lasting little more than a tantalizing fifteen years, Michael Sweerts had a particular facility for portraying children. The fresh simplicity and innocence of a child's countenance clearly served Sweerts' exploration of the academic rules of portraiture, to which he was able to apply his distinctively plastic, monumental style of painting, and convey the psychological subtleties of a maturing personality. The present portrait is one such work, comparable to Sweerts' masterly Boy with a hat, in the Wadsworth Athenenum, Hartford, Conneticut,1 the Head of a boy, in the Groninger Museum, Groningen,2 or the Portrait of a youth in a private collection - all similarly intimate works which employ a muted palette to picture a child, head half-turned, expression serious. These portraits, thought to date from around the time that Sweerts left Rome to return to Brussels and Amsterdam (circa 1656 to 1661), embody the tension that renders the artist's work so intriguing. At once intimate yet remote, sympathetic yet cool, they blur the distinctions between portraits, character studies and genre paintings to produce works that hover between realism and idealization.

1 See G. Jansen and P.C. Sutton, Michael Sweerts (1618-1664), exh. cat., Amsterdam 2002, pp. 146-48, cat. no. XXIV, reproduced in color p. 147.
2 See Jansen and Sutton 2002, p. 146, under cat. no. XXIV, reproduced fig. XXIV-I.
3 See Jansen and Sutton 2002, p. 149, under cat. no. XXV, reproduced fig. XXV-I.