Jacob Toorenvliet - inv. 1061

Jacob Toorenvliet (c. 1635-1719)

Male Figure Holding a Book
12,8 x 9 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 1061

Foreign Artist Room
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This painting on copper shows a half-bust portrait of a man holding a book to his chest. A pair to this existed - Uomo con vaso (Man with a Vase) -, which was stolen in 1900 and which probably bore the signature of Toorenvliet, an artist specialised in genre scenes and portraits.

Toorenvliet trained in Leyden, home to the finschilders, or refined artists, headed by Gerrit Dou and Frans van Mieris. Usually small, their works are extremely detailed and portray interior scenes or single figures of learned men or astronomers, at times depicted in candlelight. Toorenvliet's style resembles that of the finschilders in many aspects, although it reveals Italian inspiration in its vigorous drawing and sculptural qualities. In fact he stayed in Rome in 1670, and then went to Venice, where he got married in 1673.

Toorenvliet often reuses the same human types, as the many paintings with a similar subject to this one demonstrate, most of which are dated or datable to the years after 1675. Whether the sitter is a Doctor, or a Guitar Player, or Diogenes with a Lantern (these are just some of his subjects), we find remarkably similar features: lined faces, flowing hair and beards, ample drapery, flourishing collars of tight pleats. The visual field is almost always limited and dominated by the figure in a non-static pose holding various objects or instruments.

Compared to other works by the same artist, this painting is datable to the second half of the 1680s.