MASTER OF THE 1540S | Portrait of a man
Property from a Private Collection
MASTER OF THE 1540S
Active in Antwerp 1541 - 1551
Portrait of a man
inscribed upper left: A- 1520
and upper right: AETATIS. SVAE/ 29
oil on oak panel
65.5 x 47.5 cm.; 25¾ x 18¾ in.
The panel is cradled, flat and stable. The paint surface is relatively clean, and the varnish is discoloured. There are 2 restored vertical splits which run the height of the panel, one 7cm. from the left margin, and the other down the central axis. Both have associated visible retouching, and the latter also has a few tiny scattered losses, as well as a larger patch of restoration to the right of the sitter's nose. There is an area of visible retouching in the background just left of the sitter's face approx. 9 x 5cm. There is evidence of past flaking with associated tiny spots of paint loss in the 10cm. below the upper margin, as well as a larger loss approx. 1 x 2cm. - the paint surface now appears stable. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals a very thick varnish which fluoresces opaque, underneath which some of the aforementioned retouchings are confirmed, but it is difficult to discern anything else, and the painting appears in overall fairly good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
So-named by Max J. Friedländer on account of the dates on a large number of his pictures (the earliest of which is dated 1541, the latest 1551),(1) this anonymous master was, along with Anthonis Mor and Willem Key, one of the leading exponents of portraiture during the middle part of the sixteenth century. His style is however more akin with that of Joos van Cleve, of whom he is considered a follower, and whose death in 1540 coincides with this master's first dated work a year later.
Friedländer reproduces the work in his 1975 revised edition with a photograph taken in 1925, showing the picture before the addition of '20' as the last two digits of the date, so these were added subsequently, perhaps to facilitate an attribution to an earlier portraitist such as Holbein or van Cleve. The upper right hand inscription is shown fuller, giving the sitter's age as AETATIS. SVAE/ 29. The 29, presumably a later addition, has been removed in a subsequent cleaning.
1 Friedländer 1975, p. 93, no. 240, reproduced plate 122; and p. 94, no. 254, reproduced plate 126.