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  • Design Credit: Kacy Ellis, Photo Credit: Wynn Myers. Dimensions: H 18 in. x W 14 in.
  • Design Credit: Jeremiah Brent Design, Photo Credit: Nicole Franzen. Dimensions: H 18 in. x W 14 in.
  • Design Credit: Sarah Shetter, Photo Credit: Boris Breuer. Dimensions: H 18 in. x W 14 in.
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Michiel van Musscher
Portrait of an Artist

$35,000

About

Signed indistinctly, lower right: Musfcher f. Provenance: Private Collection, London (according to a label on the reverse) with Newhouse Galleries, New York, as Caspar Netscher with Galerie N. Karger, Caracas, Venezuela, as Caspar Netscher Acquired by the grandmother of the previous owner, and by descent; offered Christie’s, New York, 26 October 2016, lot 144, as Caspar Netscher (withdrawn) Private Collection, Pennsylvania Michiel van Musscher is perhaps best known for his portraits that evoke genre paintings, depictions of sitters in richly decorated environments that resonate with and amplify their personal identities. In this portrait of an artist the sitter appears seated with his right arm boldly positioned, his hand resting somewhat proprietarily atop a roll of canvas or prepared paper as he peers out at the viewer. Set before him on the colored marble tabletop are several objects referring to his profession: a palette with five fine paintbrushes and two marble sculptures, the heads partially obscured by the green velvet curtain that trails down the left edge of the canvas. The artist is dressed in a red velvet cap, a lace shirt with frilled cuffs, a jabot about his neck, and a golden-brown silk coat known as a Japanese rok. These both reflect contemporary fashion and were a clear display of wealth and taste. He is placed slightly left of center, allowing for a clear view onto a potted orange tree, with both fruit and blossoms visible, and then to a pastoral landscape beyond. Our portrait is closest in tenor to Van Musscher’s early works. The palette with a set of brushes stuck diagonally through the thumbhole was a leitmotif for the artist, appearing in his Allegorical Portrait of an Artist in Her Studio in the North Carolina Museum of Art. Additionally, the classical female bust depicted in this work appears to be related to the sculpted head in the present portrait; all might have been studio props owned by Van Musscher. The artist often reused props in his self-portraits and portraits, and the satin Japanese rok found in our painting was almost a constant in these works. It remained a costly and fashionable article of clothing throughout the artist’s lifetime, and a purple one—a “paerse sautijne Japonse Rock”—in fact appeared in the artist’s posthumous inventory of 1705. Whereas Van Musscher’s self-portraits often show him in a lavish studio at work on a painting, the present work depicts an artist in a related but slightly different setting. Here the interior opens up onto a view of a pastoral landscape, framed by the decorated architecture and the potted orange tree. In combination with his high-status wardrobe, the presence of the landscape view must be viewed within the context of land ownership and social mobility in this period. Land was greatly valued and in short supply in the Dutch provinces, and ownership of a country estate seemed a natural adjunct to a rise in social status. Even if such a purchase was unattainable, the appearance of land ownership could be achieved in paint, which led to an increased demand for exterior views in portraits. In the present work, the suggestion of land ownership serves either as a marker of personal success or aspiration of the artist depicted. Although the sister’s identity is unknown, the figure bears a striking resemblance to the sitter in a painting attributed to Jacobus Leveck in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, with analogous treatment of the distinctive straight nose, almond-shaped eyes, and overall physiognomy. Our painting had previously appeared on the art market with an old attribution to Caspar Netscher, and the attribution to Michiel van Musscher was recently proposed by Dr. Marjorie Wieseman. The signature in the lower right of the painting, though somewhat abraded, is legible as “Musfcher f.” The use of a short “s” followed by a long “f” is consistent with known examples of the artist’s signature.

Details

  • Creator
    Michiel van Musscher (1645 - 1705, Dutch)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 18 in. (45.72 cm)Width: 14 in. (35.56 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
  • Gallery Location
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU1029004642

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Ships From: New York, NY
  • Return Policy

    This item cannot be returned.

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