GOVERT FLINCK | PORTRAIT OF A LADY IN A TURBAN, HALF-LENGTH
Property from Koetser Gallery, Zurich
Kleve 1615 - 1660 Amsterdam
PORTRAIT OF A LADY IN A TURBAN, HALF-LENGTH
oil on canvas
unframed: 29⅛ x 23½ in; 74 x 59.7 cm.
framed: 38 x 31.75 in.; 96.5 x 80.6 cm.
This canvas has been fairly recently relined. The surface is clean, and beautiful impasto and brushwork is retained throughout. Under UV: There are small touches of restoration, none of which deal with major structural issues, except for perhaps two small spots in the lower right background. For the most part, there seems to be touches in old heavy-ish craquelure, typical of this type of picture, including in the upper right background, above her head, in her turban, and some touches in her face and costume. There are two small restorations around her eye at left and under her nose at right. None of these retouches are terribly disturbing, as they appear to be more cosmetic in nature. The paint layer overall is very nicely preserved. The painting is ready to hang as is. In a Dutch 17th century style black ebonized frame.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Private collection, Belgium;
By whom sold, New York, Christie's, 19 April 2018, lot 144;
"Having assisted in the formation of two collections devoted to Rembrandt and his School (the Bader Collection at Queens University and the Leiden Collection in New York), I have personally experienced the diminishing availability of this school of paintings. So it was a great pleasure for me to welcome this tronie or head study by Rembrandt’s pupil, Govaert Flinck, into the sale. This is the only painting from the Rembrandt School in the entire sale, which is a testament to how rare this category of paintings has become."
Govaert Flinck was born in the German city of Kleve, near Nijmegen, and his affluent father at first disapproved of Flinck’s desire to become a painter. After studying in Leeuwarden under the Mennonite painter Lambert Jacobsz., Flinck moved to Amsterdam and apprenticed with Rembrandt for about one year in circa 1634/5. At this time Rembrandt was living in Hendrick Uylenburgh’s shop, and Flinck took over the studio when Rembrandt left in around 1635/6. As one of Rembrandt’s most talented pupils, Flinck made a name for himself as a portraitist to Amsterdam’s elite, and often his works were nearly indistinguishable from Rembrandt’s. It was not until about 1645 that Flinck adapted his style to fit more closely with the popular Flemish fashion.
The present lot was painted in circa 1640, when Flinck was an independent master in Amsterdam and very commercially successful with wealthy patrons. This was the period in which Flinck was beginning to find his own style distinct from Rembrandt, and the handling is comparable to that in a number of paintings produced by Flinck during the late 1630s and early 1640s, most notably Saskia as a shepherdess, dated 1636 (fig. 1) and Portrait of a man, known as Gozen Centen, circa 1640 (fig. 2). This opulent depiction of a woman is a tronie, or study head/figure, rather than a true portrait. Rembrandt and his students used tronies to study human expression, pose, and experiment with costumes and accessories. The turban worn by this anonymous woman was likely a studio prop and serves to characterize the figure loosely as “exotic” rather than intending to accurately depict the costume of another region. Rembrandt often used vaguely Eastern dress and turbans on Dutch sitters to indicate foreignness or a biblical or historical setting.1 Flinck’s painting is not part of a specific narrative but the style of dress would have appealed to a potential buyer familiar with similar figures in history paintings.
The present lot is the first of two versions of this work; the second is at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. The superlative quality of the present picture makes a strong case for this being the prime version. Dr. Tom van der Molen, curator of the Amsterdam Museum, to whom we are grateful, believes this version to be the prime on the basis of comparison with contemporaneous works by Flinck.2 Notable for both its detailed rendering of textures and surfaces as well as its sensitive execution of the facial features, the present tronie highlights Flinck’s connection to his master Rembrandt as well as the independent style he was developing, and looks forward to more mature works by the artist.
1. See, for example, Rembrandt, Man in Oriental Costume (“The Noble Slav,”) 1632, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437385 ; Rembrandt, Belshazzar’s Feast, c. 1635, National Gallery, London. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/rembrandt-belshazzars-feast .
For more on Rembrandt’s use of exotic dress, see E.S. Gordenker, “The Rhetoric of Dress in Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Portraiture,” The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 57: Place and Culture in Northern Art (1999): 90-94.
2. A copy of Dr. Van der Molen’s report is available upon request.