Oil on panel
We are grateful to Koenraad Jonckheere for confirming the attribution after inspection of the original. He dates the work to circa 1570.
The present portrait of a bearded man, arresting in its intimacy, capturing the contemplative gaze of the sitter, along with the intense naturalism with which his face is rendered, is an outstanding example of the oeuvre of the Antwerp master Adriaen Thomasz. Key. Attired in an expensive and modish ‘Burgundian black’ doublet, with his hands unsheathed from fine kidskin gloves to show fingers adorned with no less than three rings, it is likely our sitter is an as yet unidentified nobleman. Antwerp was the major economic hub of Northern Europe at this time and the Key workshop, founded by Adriaen Thomasz.’s master Willem Key (1516–1578), portrayed a very international and moneyed clientele, from Margaret of Parma, to William the Silent Prince of Orange. Thus, even the nationality of the sitter remains an open art historical question.
Long thought to be the son of Willem Key, archival research has revealed that Thomas Adriensz was only related to Willem only by marriage, Adriean Thomasz. likely added Key suffix to his name as a guarantor of quality when he took over his late master’s workshop. Following the Beeldenstorm, or iconoclasm of 1566, Antwerp was at the centre of intense religious and political turbulence, but where certainty could at least be sought in the consistently superb qualities of the output of the Key atelier. Arguably even more refined than his master, Jonckheere has spoken of the how: ‘Adriaen succeeded much more than his master to transform his observations of nature into a detailed image.’
Technical analysis by Gianluca Poldi:
The underdrawing of the head is almost completely invisible in the IR images, while some signs of a free, rather large black underdrawing is visible in the hands, particularly near the wrists: the painter probably used another type of drawing technique and material to define and detail the sitter’s face, a material largely transparent to IR radiation like iron-gall ink.
Pigments include ochres and a Kassel-type brown earth, lead white, black pigment and vermillion, quite finely grinded, added to black and brown hues. A red lake is also present, in the flesh tones, mixed with vermillion and lead white.
Delevery information :
After reception of payment we can box and ship our items all over the world. Estimates of this service can be provided.