• Portrait of a Young Man (Self-Portrait ?)

    Artist:
    Sweerts, Michiel. 1618-1664
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    114x92 cm

Sweerts, Michiel. 1618-1664

Portrait of a Young Man (Self-Portrait ?)

South Netherlands, 1656

The elements depicted in a trompe-l’oeil manner in this picture are the sheet of paper pinned to the tablecloth and the objects on top of the table: the inkwell and quill, the purse, the old books and the scattered coins. This work from the Hermitage belongs to a type of portrait depiction that gives expression to the Neo-Platonic idea of melancholy being the distinguishing feature of a creative personality. The subject’s pose – sitting deep in thought with his head resting on his hand – has its distant source in Albrecht Dürer’s famous 1514 engraving Melencolia I and can be found in many self-portraits by 17th-century Low Countries artists. The objects on the table that were already mentioned also have an allegorical significance bound up with the whole imagery of the painting. They are all typical symbols for a Vanitas, reminders of the transience and futility of earthly existence. The motto of the painting – Ratio Quique Reddenda (“Each must pay his account”) – is also connected with the realm of Vanitas ideas.

Title:

Portrait of a Young Man (Self-Portrait ?)

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

114x92 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1922; handed over from the Academy of Fine Arts

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-3654

Category:

Collection: