Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Portrait of a Man

Dieric Bouts (Netherlandish, Haarlem, active by 1457–died 1475)
ca. 1470
Oil on wood
Overall 12 x 8 1/2 in. (30.5 x 21.6 cm); painted surface 11 5/8 x 8 1/8 in. (29.5 x 20.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 644
Carefully observed details, such as the loose skin beneath the eyes and the creases by the mouth and brows, create an appearance of earnestness that is characteristic of Bouts’s work. The panel has been cut down on all sides; it is unclear whether this is an independent portrait, or if it once formed part of a religious triptych or larger composition. The hat is an unusual feature for a devotional figure, though the hands are joined in a gesture of prayer. They were painted over the sleeves, and with time, this has resulted in a slightly darker appearance.
private collection, England (until about 1895); Baron Albert Oppenheim, Cologne (by 1896–1912; cat., 1904, no. 3); [Kleinberger, New York, 1912]; Benjamin Altman, New York (1912–d. 1913)
Bruges. Palais du Gouvernement. "Exposition des primitifs flamands et d'art ancien," June 15–September 15, 1902, no. 38 (lent by Baron Albert Oppenheim, Cologne).

Brussels. Hôtel Goffinet. "Exposition de la miniature," March–July 1912, no. 2003A (lent by Baron Oppenheim).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 94.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 26.


Henri Hymans. "L'exposition des primitifs flamands à Bruges (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 28 (August 1902), p. 48, calls it a self-portrait.

Paul Heiland. Dirk Bouts und die Hauptwerke seiner Schule. PhD diss., Kaiser Wilhelms-Universität, Strassburg. Potsdam, [1902?], pp. 122–23, 141.

Georges H. de Loo Palais du Gouvernement, Bruges. Exposition de tableaux flamands des XIVe, XVe et XVIe siècles: catalogue critique précédé d'une introduction sur l'identité de certains maîtres anonymes. Ghent, 1902, p. 11, no. 38, as possibly a self-portrait, in spite of the discrepency between the artist's late technique and the sitter's relative youth.

W. H. James Weale. "The Early Painters of the Netherlands as Illustrated by the Bruges Exhibition of 1902, Article III." Burlington Magazine 1 (April 1903), p. 217, as apparently a late work.

Octave Maus. "The Exhibition of Early Flemish Pictures at Bruges." Magazine of Art, n.s., 1 (1903), p. 30, as a very fine portrait.

Max J. Friedländer. Meisterwerke der niederländischen Malerei des XV. u. XVI. Jahrhunderts auf der Ausstellung zu Brügge 1902. Munich, 1903, p. 9, pl. 19, states that it is not a self-portrait, but probably half of a diptych, and a late work.

Max J. Friedländer. "Die Brügger Leihausstellung von 1902." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 26 (1903), p. 76.

Franz Dülberg. "Die Ausstellung altniederländischer Meister in Brügge." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 14 (1903), p. 56, suggests that the head was cut from a larger picture.

Karl Voll. Die altniederländische Malerei von Jan van Eyck bis Memling. Leipzig, 1906, p. 117, as a late Bouts.

Arnold Goffin. Thiéry Bouts. Brussels, 1907, p. 64, ill.

Arnold Goffin. "Het werk van Dirk Bouts te Leuvin." Onze Kunst 12 (December 1907), p. 201, ill., hesitantly ascribes it to Bouts.

Alban Head. "Letters to the Editor: An Early Flemish Portrait in the National Gallery." Burlington Magazine 12 (October 1907–March 1908), p. 107.

Max J. Friedländer. Letter to F. Kleinberger. June 6, 1912.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner. The Art of the Low Countries. English ed. Garden City, N.Y., 1914, pp. 43–44, ill. opp. p. 44.

Max J. Friedländer. Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei. Berlin, 1916, pp. 39–40, pl. VII, as one of the latest works by Bouts.

Martin Conway. The Van Eycks and Their Followers. London, 1921, p. 164, dates it before 1447; as probably half of a diptych, not a self-portrait.

Ludwig Baldass. "Dirk Bouts' Bildnis eines betenden Mannes." Graphischen Künste 45 (1922), pp. 107–8, ill., illustrates the engraving of the portrait by Peter Halm; states that the picture was not part of a diptych.

François Monod. "La galerie Altman au Metropolitan Museum de New-York (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 8 (September–October 1923), pp. 192–93, ill., as "Portrait de l'artiste(?)".

Willy Burger. Die Malerei in den Niederlanden 1400–1550. Munich, 1925, p. 65, pl. LXXIII.

Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 3, Dierick Bouts und Joos van Gent. Berlin, 1925, pp. 44, 111, no. 32, pl. XLI, as one of the latest works by Bouts.

Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. 2nd ed. New York, 1928, pp. 47–49, no. 21, ill.

Franz Dülberg. Niederländische Malerei der Spätgotik und Renaissance. Potsdam, 1929, p. 71.

[Hippolyte] Fierens-Gevaert and Paul Fierens. Histoire de la peinture flamande des origines à la fin du XVe siècle. Vol. 3, La maturité de l'art flamand. Paris, 1929, pp. 18, 29, pl. VIII, fig. 14, consider it half of a diptych.

Ludwig von Baldass. "Die Entwicklung des Dirk Bouts." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, n.s., 6 (1932), pp. 100, 108–9, 114.

Hans Tietze. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935, p. 333, pl. 128 [English ed., "Masterpieces of European Painting in America," New York, 1939, p. 317, pl. 128].

Ernst Günter Troche. Niederländische Malerei. Berlin, 1935, pp. 11–12, 26, pl. 31.

Wolfgang Schöne. Dieric Bouts und seine Schule. Berlin, 1938, pp. 5, 7, 32, 107–8, pl. 33, dates it between 1470 and 1473, calling it one of Bouts' latest works; comments on the influence of Rogier van der Weyden.

Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 47–48, ill.

Leo van Puyvelde. The Flemish Primitives. Brussels, 1948, p. 28.

M. J. Schretlen. Dirck Bouts. Amsterdam, [1948?], p. 36, pl. 52.

J. Francotte. Dieric Bouts: Zijn Kunst—zijn laatste Avondmaal. Louvain, 1951, pp. 52, 53, 56, 183, pl. 32.

Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 226, no. 94, colorpl. 94.

Erwin Panofsky. Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character. Cambridge, Mass., 1953, vol. 1, p. 479 n. 16 (to p. 294), p. 493 n. 3 (to p. 318), discusses role of devotional portraits in diptych with Virgin; based on the findings of Murray Pease, thinks this is not half of a diptych but a fragment of a larger composition.

Leo van Puyvelde. La peinture flamande au siècle des van Eyck. Paris, 1953, p. 207.

Valentin Denis. Thierry Bouts. Brussels, 1957, pp. 8, 16, 21, 26, 39.

Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 63–64, 116–17, fig. XIV.

R. H. Wilenski. Flemish Painters, 1430–1830. New York, 1960, vol. 1, pp. 13, 26, 506; vol. 2, pl. 60, as by the New York Man in High Cap Painter.

A[lbert]. Châtelet. "Sur un jugement dernier de Dieric Bouts." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 16 (1965), p. 33.

Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, p. 143, fig. 173, calls it fragmentary; dates it about 1470.

Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 3, Dieric Bouts and Joos van Gent. New York, 1968, pp. 27–28, 63, 86–87 nn. 8, 40, pl. 51, Friedländer suggests the panel was one side of a diptych, the other side depicting a Madonna; Veronée-Verhaegen feels it could not be part of a diptych with the Madonna since the man is praying to the right, and considers it instead a fragment from a larger composition.

Gustav Künstler. "Vom entstehen des Einzelbildnisses und seiner frühen Entwicklung in der flämischen Malerei." Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 27 (1974), pp. 59–60, fig. 17, implies that it is not a fragment, regarding it as an example of portraiture in which Bouts concentrates exclusively on the person and his inner contemplation; rejects the possibility that it formed half a devotional diptych as the sitter's head is covered.

V. Denis. La peinture flamande 15e–16e–17e siècles. Brussels, 1976, pp. 84, 86.

Albert Châtelet. Early Dutch Painting: Painting in the Northern Netherlands in the Fifteenth Century. English ed. [French ed. 1980]. New York, 1981, p. 213, suggests that this picture could be attributed to the "Master of the Taking of Christ".

Guy Bauman. "Early Flemish Portraits, 1425–1525." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 43 (Spring 1986), p. 52, ill. (color), notes that the fingertips joined in prayer suggest that it is a devotional portrait from a triptych or diptych, although the hands were painted over the coat and may be a later addition; also observes that a male sitter with a covered head would be unusual in a devotional portrait and would appear disrespectful; notes that the picture is a fragment and its original form and function enigmatic; dates it about 1470 on the basis of style and costume.

Martha Wolff. "An Image of Compassion: Dieric Bouts's Sorrowing Madonna." Museum Studies 15, no. 2 (1989), p. 125, fig. 17, notes the "greater concern for the varied substance of the flesh: the folds around the eyes, the tighter skin over the cheekbones" and mentions it with works from the very end of Bouts's career.

Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke in Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 24, 319, no. 126, ill.

Jochen Sander. Niederländische Gemälde im Städel, 1400–1550. Mainz, 1993, p. 303.

Dirk De Vos. Hans Memling: The Complete Works. Ghent, 1994, p. 146 n. 1.

Dirk De Vos. Hans Memling: Catalogue. Exh. cat., Groeninge Museum, Bruges. Ghent, 1994, p. 68 n. 1.

James Snyder in The Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 4, New York, 1996, p. 593, notes that the panel is a fragment, and that "contrary to the established convention for devotional diptychs, in which the Virgin always appears on the left in keeping with hieratic order," our portrait would be at the left in a diptych context.

Lorne Campbell. Letter to Mary Sprinson de Jesús. August 28, 1997, feels it is not unusual for a male sitter to be represented at prayer with his hat on and cites other examples of this in Netherlandish painting.

Otto Pächt. Early Netherlandish Painting from Rogier van der Weyden to Gerard David. Ed. Monika Rosenauer. London, 1997, pp. 142–43, ill., notes that the Madonna towards which the sitter would have prayed is missing and that the panel may be cut at its lower edge; places the portrait in the 1470s in Bouts's "late phase of exaggerated vertical emphasis".

Mary Sprinson de Jesús in From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 66, 74, 160–61, no. 26, ill. (color), observes that "there are no technical reasons for doubting as original either the hands, which have been painted over the sitter's jacket, or the flat azurite background"; finds the hat not necessarily inconsistent with the representation of a praying sitter, noting that other comparable, but later examples survive; remarks that Bouts was generally inclined to represent his male subjects with tall hats, thereby emphasizing the figure's verticality.

Maurits Smeyers in Dirk Bouts (ca. 1410–1475): Een Vlaams primitief te Leuven. Ed. Maurits Smeyers. Exh. cat., Sint-Pieterskerk en Predikherenkerk, Leuven. Louvain, 1998, p. 451, no. 131, ill. (color), considers this panel a fragment of a larger work, most likely the left wing of a triptych.

Maurits Smeyers. Dirk Bouts: Peintre du silence. Tournai, 1998, pp. 126–27, ill. in color.

Till-Holger Borchert. "Collecting Early Netherlandish Paintings in Europe and the United States." Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research. Ed. Bernhard Ridderbos et al. English ed. Amsterdam, 2005, p. 212 [Dutch ed., "'Om iets te weten van de oude meesters'. De Vlaamse Primitieven—herontdekking, waardering en onderzoek," Nijmegen, 1995].

Catheline Périer-d'Ieteren. Dieric Bouts: The Complete Works. Brussels, 2006, pp. 113, 117, 119–20, 122, 124, 297, no. 23, ill. in color, p. 297 and figs. 107, 116, as perhaps the left wing of a devotional triptych; believes the hands are most likely a later addition by Bouts himself; notes that both the male portrait in the National Gallery, London, and this panel have extremely summary underdrawing for the composition as a whole, and none for the face, suggesting that they were preceded by a drawing like the Portrait of a Man in the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Mass.

Alte Meister. Dorotheum, Vienna. June 16, 2011, p. 276, under no. 409.

The panel has been marouflaged.
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