Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Portrait of a Woman with a Balance

Artist:
Thomas de Keyser (Dutch, Amsterdam (?) 1596/97–1667 Amsterdam)
Date:
ca. 1625–26
Medium:
Oil on wood
Dimensions:
9 1/8 x 6 7/8 in. (23.2 x 17.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
From the Collection of Rita and Frits Markus, Bequest of Rita Markus, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.331.6
Not on view
The man is a shell collector, in an age when foreign trade opened up a wide world of natural curiosities. His wife holds a balance, symbolizing the virtue of temperance. De Keyser was one of the leading portraitists in Amsterdam during the 1620s and 1630s. He is best known for small full-length portraits, but he also painted large group portraits and small bust- and half-length portraits.
Forthcoming
private collection, The Netherlands; [Kurt Walter Bachstitz, The Hague, 1926–27; sold for fl. 8,000 to Pannwitz]; Catalina von Pannwitz, Heemstede, The Netherlands (1927–1950s; transferred to the Aurora Trust); Aurora Trust (1950s–1988; sold through Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, and Otto Naumann Ltd, New York, to Markus); Frits and Rita Markus, New York (1988–his d. 1996); Rita Markus, New York (1996–d. 2005)
New York. National Academy of Design. "Dutch and Flemish Paintings from New York Private Collections," August 10–September 5, 1988, no. 28 (lent from a private collection).

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Prized Possessions: European Paintings from Private Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," June 17–August 16, 1992, no. 76 (lent from a private collection).

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.

Museum of the City of New York. "Amsterdam/New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson," April 4–September 27, 2009, no catalogue.

Raleigh. North Carolina Museum of Art. "Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries," October 12, 2014–January 4, 2015, no. 18A (with 2005.331.5).

Birmingham Museum of Art. "Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries," February 1–April 26, 2015, no. 18A (with 2005.331.5).

Ann Jensen Adams. Dutch and Flemish Paintings from New York Private Collections. Exh. cat., National Academy of Design. New York, 1988, p. 77, no. 28, ill. p. 61 (color), attributes it to Thomas de Keyser and dates it about 1634; notes that although the cropped balance is unusual, examination of the panel indicates that it has not been cut down; compares this cropped element to one in a portrait of Loef Vredericx as an Ensign (1626; Mauritshuis, The Hague) and adds that such an approach to imagery indicates that the object is playing a metaphorical rather than a descriptive role; suggests that the balance may refer to "the ideals of restraint by which the young woman leads—or would like the viewer to believe she leads—her life".

Peter C. Sutton in Prized Possessions: European Paintings from Private Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1992, p. 169, no. 76, colorpl. 25, concurs with Adams [see Ref. 1988] on the attribution and dating, and on her interpretation of the scales as a symbol of temperance.

Inaugural Exhibition of Old Master Paintings. Exh. cat., Otto Naumann. New York, 1995, unpaginated, ill. (color), includes it among pictures sold by him in 1988 and identifies it as the pendant of the "Portrait of a Man with a Shell" (MMA, 2005.331.5).

Old Master Paintings. Sotheby's, London. July 5, 1995, p. 252, under no. 295, mentions it as in a private collection under the entry for the pair of pendants now in a private collection, Switzerland.

Walter Liedtke in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2005–2006." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 64 (Fall 2006), p. 36.

Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 65, 67.

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. x, 394–400, no. 99, colorpl. 99, fig. 96, dates it and its pendant about 1625–26.

Dennis P. Weller. Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 2014, pp. 115–17, no. 18A (with 2005.331.5), ill. p. 113 (color).

Noelle Ocon in Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 2014, p. 34.

Old Master Paintings: Part I. Christie's, New York. January 28, 2015, p. 24, under no. 3.



This picture is the pendant to "Portrait of a Man with a Shell" (MMA 2005.331.5). The two works probably date to about 1625–26.

Two additional versions of the two pendants are known. One pair (each oil on wood, 9 1/4 x 7 in.) is in a private collection in Switzerland. The portrait of the man is dated and inscribed (upper right): Anº. 1626. / ÆT: 59; the woman's portrait is dated and inscribed (upper left): Anº. 1628 / ÆT: 61. The two figures are closer to the picture plane than those in the MMA paintings, and the hands and attributes are omitted.

The Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, owns a version of the man that is octagonal, oil on copper, 9 7/8 x 7 1/2 in. It is signed TDK in monogram. The probable pendant to this work was formerly in the collection of Adolphe Schloss (seized by the Nazis in 1943), and is referred to in the literature as oval, or possibly octagonal, oil on copper, 9 7/8 x 7 5/8 in.
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