Abraham de Vries (Dutch, The Hague (?) ca. 1590–1649/50 The Hague (?))
Oil on wood
25 1/4 x 21 in. (64.1 x 53.3 cm)
Not on view
The peripatetic portraitist Abraham de Vries is a difficult figure to pin down, with regard to both biography and stylistic qualities, as he worked in three countries and in Dutch cities with quite different traditions of portraiture. Though it has been said that he was born in or near Rotterdam, the fact that he paid a reduced entry fee when he joined the painters’ guild of The Hague strongly suggests that he was from that city.
According to the inscription on this engaging portrait, it was painted in The Hague in 1643. The same inscription, De Vries's signature, and the date 1644 are found on the artist's portrait of Hans van Loon (1577–1658) in the Museum Van Loon, Amsterdam.
It was probably the sitter's pose and expression that led A. B. de Vries to wonder whether this painting might be a self-portrait (1951–52; verbal opinion recorded in departmental archives). The features and hairline of the figure in the artist's Self-Portrait, dated 1621 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), suggest that this is possible, although the earnest image of twenty-two years earlier does not make for an ideal comparison. Two speculative considerations may be put forward, given that so little is known about De Vries's career in Holland, and that this picture contributes to our knowledge of his whereabouts. First, the artist should not have been producing portraits in The Hague (and announcing the fact) before he joined the painters' guild there in 1644. Second, it was not unusual for an artist who was seeking commissions for portraits in a place where he had recently arrived to paint a self-portrait as a carte de visite.
[2016; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (right): Fecit Hagæ Comitis / A. de Vries / anno 1643.
[Léon Gauchez, Paris, until 1870; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, New York, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1871; sold to MMA)
Staten Island Institute of Arts & Sciences. "Picture of the Month," March 28–May 2, 1952, no catalogue?
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.
Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart. Etchings of Pictures in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. London, 1871, pl. , as by Adrian de Vries.
[Henry James]. "Art: The Dutch and Flemish Pictures in New York." Atlantic Monthly 29 (June 1872), pp. 758–59 [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye," London, 1956, p. 56], as "a Gentleman," by Aadrian de Vries.
Louis Decamps. "Un musée transatlantique (3e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 6 (December 1872), pp. 479–80.
F[ritz von]. Harck. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: Aus amerikanischen Galerien." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 11 (1888), p. 74.
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 165, 173, 182, 197, 222, 245, appendix 1A no. 172, ill. p. 222 and figs. 7, 31 (floor plan).
Rudi Ekkart. "Abraham de Vries, een Hollandse portrettist in Frankrijk en de Zuidelijke Nederlanden." Munuscula Amicorum: Contributions on Rubens and His Colleagues in Honour of Hans Vlieghe. Ed. Katlijne van der Stighelen. Vol. 2, Turnhout, Belgium, 2006, pp. 561, 564 n. 38, fig. 9.
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 2, pp. 931–33, no. 214, colorpl. 214, believes it possible that this is a self-portrait.