This charming portrait certainly represents a young boy, to judge from his attire. The collar follows adult male fashion of about 1637, a date consistent with the style of lace on the collar and cuffs (the lace on the cap is old-fashioned, suggesting that it was made about 1630). The doublet is decorated with gold passementerie; brownish gold bows and silver aglets surround the waist. The aglets were used to lace breeches to the doublet, or were merely symbolic of boyhood, when the child had not yet graduated from skirts to pants.
The painting was listed as attributed to Moreelse by De Jonge (1938), and Ekkart (1988; unpublished opinion in departmental archives) considered it to be by Moreelse himself. Domela Nieuwenhuis Nyegaard (2001), however, believed it to be neither by Moreelse nor from his workshop, and not even from the artist's city of Utrecht. Liedtke (2007) stated that the picture was probably painted in Utrecht and may be from Moreelse's studio.
The panel is unusually broad for an oval support of the 1630s. This impression, examination of the edges, and the uncomfortable truncation of the figure suggest that the work was originally rectagular.
[2017; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Biljoen Castle (until 1918; sale, Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, May 28, 1918, no. 174, for fl. 12,100 to Preyer); Herr A. Preyer, The Hague (1918–at least 1926); [Knoedler, New York, ?1926–at least 1927]; Alexandrine (Mrs. A. L.) Sinsheimer, New York (until d. 1958)
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Childhood in Art," November 29–December 18, 1926, no. 17.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
O. H[irschmann]. "Der Kunstmarkt." Der Cicerone 10 (1918), p. 260, records its sale at Frederick Muller, Amsterdam, for fl. 12,100.
Otto Heinrich Hirschmann. "Die Sammlung A. Preyer im Haag." Der Cicerone 15 (1923), p. 130, ill. p. 131, as a painting of charming naïveté, in the Preyer collection.
Helen Comstock. "Children's Portraits in European Art." International Studio 86 (February 1927), p. 42, ill. p. 43, erroneously states that it remained in the family of the sitter until it was purchased by Preyer in 1918.
C[aroline]. H[enriette]. de Jonge. Paulus Moreelse: Portret- en Genreschilder te Utrecht, 1571–1638. Assen, The Netherlands, 1938, pp. 112–13, no. 224, fig. 146, as attributed to Moreelse; dates it 1630–35, and states that its present wherabouts are unknown.
Barbara Burn. Metropolitan Children. New York, 1984, p. 28, ill. (color).
Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 184.
Eric Nicolai Domela Nieuwenhuis Nyegaard. "Paulus Moreelse (1571–1638)." PhD diss., Universiteit Leiden, 2001, no. SZP41 [see Ref. Liedtke 2007], considers it not by Moreelse, his workshop, or from his city of Utrecht; identifies the sitter as male.
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 494–96, no. 126, colorpl. 126, states that it certainly represents a boy, noting that "the collar follows adult male fashion of about 1637, a date consistent with the style of lace on the collar and cuffs".