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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: At the Origin of the Galleria Estense


Portrait of a Man, Possibly a Botanist

Attributed to David Bailly (Dutch, Leiden 1584–1657 Leiden)

Oil on wood
33 x 24 1/2 in. (83.8 x 62.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982
Accession Number:
  • Catalogue Entry

    This impressive portrait was once ascribed to Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680), until Sturla Gudlaugsson more plausibly proposed Bailly (see Blankert 1982). It is compositionally similar to and consistent in quality and handling with two other works by Bailly: the Portrait of Anthony de Wale, Professor of Theology at the University of Leiden of 1636 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) and the Portrait of an Unknown Professor or Pastor, signed and dated 1642 (Van Heeckeren van Wassenaer collection, Kasteel Twickel). Other scholars have observed similarities between the MMA work and portraits by Dordrecht painter Jacob Gerritz Cuyp (1594–1651/52), and by Delft artists such as Anthonie Palamedesz (1601–1673). In execution and expression, however, it is more typical of Bailly's native Leiden, and is consistent in type with numerous portraits of professors and clergymen from that city.

    The identity of the sitter is not known. He could be a cleric or a professor (although his attire is not academic), an amateur of botany, a doctor, or an apothecary. The book, which shows two views of a narcissus, cannot be identified and is probably the artist's invention. This type of "scholar portrait," which has sixteenth-century North Italian roots, was popular in the Netherlands during the first half of the seventeenth century and was employed for amateurs as well as professionals.

    [2010; adapted from Liedtke 2007]

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Dated and inscribed (center right): Ætatis 66 / ANo 1641

  • Provenance

    ?T. H. Ward (until 1899; as "Man's Portrait," by Bol; sold to Agnew); ?[Agnew, London, 1899; sold to Fischhof]; ?[Eugène Fischhof, Paris, from 1899]; Achillito Chiesa, Milan (until 1925; sale, American Art Association, New York, November 27, 1925, no. 18, as by Ferdinand Bol, for $2,900 to Bye); Dr. L. Bye (from 1925); Roland L. Taylor, Philadelphia (until d. 1943; his estate sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, April 5, 1944, no. 25, as by Ferdinand Bol, for $1,300); Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1944–his d. 1980); The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, New York (1980–82)

  • Exhibition History

    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.

  • References

    Albert Blankert. Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt's Pupil. Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1982, p. 180, no. R 168, titles the picture "Old Man Studying a Botanical Book," and gives the artist as David Bailly, crediting the attribution to S. J. Gudlaugsson's undated note in the photographic file of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague.

    J[osua]. Bruyn. Letter to Walter Liedtke. September 1, 1983, writes that he is certain it is not by Bailly, and also rejects attributions to Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp, Jacob Willemsz. Delff II, Hendrick van Vliet, and Bol; does believe it to be a work of the Delft school.

    Walter Liedtke in The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 84–86, no. 29, ill., supports the attribution to Bailly.

    Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 15–18, no. 3, colorpl. 3, as Attributed to David Bailly; states that he "still considers Bailly's authorship likely".

    Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 62, 66, fig. 75 (color, MMA Linsky gallery photograph).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History