The Master of the 1540s (Antwerp, active 1540-1551). Portrait of a Gentleman with his Right Hand Pointing to a Skull and his Left Hand Holding a Glove with a Protruding Yellow Violet

oil on panel. Height : 17.00 cm - Width : 13.00 cm - Price on application

Note: The Master of the 1540s is the name given by Max J. Friedländer to an anonymous painter of a group of approximately thirty known portraits. Regarded as a follower of Joos van Cleve (1485-1540), his period of activity from 1540-1551 began immediately after Van Cleve's death, documented by the works in the group that are dated. With two exceptions, the portraits of Gillebert van Schoonbeke and his with Elisabeth Heyndrickx on loan to the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, the Master's sitters are unidentified. They are also devoid of coats-of-arms or other distinguishing emblems whose absence mark them as members of the upper middle-class as opposed to the aristocracy.

As evident in this panel, typical characteristics for the Master of the 1540s are portraits done in half-length formats, in which the sitter's head is viewed frontally or just slightly turned to the side, set close to the top of the panel. Although these portrayals are individualized the group shares a certain sameness to their features in which dark eyes dominate. There is a linear quality to the mouth, eyebrows and eyelids. A velvety texture is also notable. Flesh tones are brightly lit causing the face and hands to spring forth from a monochromatic background and dark attire. In this work and a number of others, the figure casts a dark shadow against the background, which serves to enhance the volume and depth of the composition. Often the sitters hold gloves in nicely formed hands with long fingers and oval nails. The overall impression of these portraits is one of vivid clarity encapsulated in a veneer of high gloss.

PROVENANCE: Baron Raoul de Kuffner, Zurich, 1938 (the husband of the artist Tamara de Lempicka); The Harriet Rozier Trust

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