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Portrait of a Man

Jan Gossart (called Mabuse) (Netherlandish, Maubeuge ca. 1478–1532 Antwerp (?))

ca. 1520–25
Oil on wood
18 1/2 x 13 3/4 in. (47 x 34.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This is the only independent portrait by Gossart that is signed; the scroll reads, "Joannes Malbodius pingebat." The sitter is turned to the left in a three-quarter view against a dark background, a format that derives from the earlier portraiture tradition of Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling. Like his predecessors, Gossart paid careful attention to tiny details such as the stubble of the beard and the individually painted hairs of the eyebrows, but he emphasized the sculptural form of the sitter in a new and bold way.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed: (on scroll) . . . omrpses / J[o]annes . . . / malbodius . . . / pingeba[t]; (on hat ornament) IM [monogram]

  • Provenance

    Sir Joshua Reynolds, London (until d. 1792; his estate sale, Christie's, London, March 16, 1795, no. 41, as "The Portrait of John Duke of Flanders," by J. Mabeuse, for £12.12 to Bryan); [Michael Bryan, London, 1795; his sale, Bryan's Gallery, London, April 27, 1795, no. 47, as "The Portrait of the Painter," by J. de Mabeuse]; Edward Coxe, London (until 1807; his sale, Peter Coxe, London, April 25, 1807, no. 33, as "His own Portrait," by J. de Mabuse, for £7.17 to Panné); [Philippe Panné, London, from 1807]; comte de Quincey (until 1904; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 22, 1904, no. 35, as "Portrait présumé de l'artiste," by Mabuse, for Fr 28,000 to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris, from 1904]; Richard von Kaufmann, Berlin (by 1906–d. 1908; his estate, 1908–17; his estate sale, Cassirer & Helbing, Berlin, December 4, 1917, no. 91, as "Bildnis eines Mannes," for Mk. 63,000); Camillo Castiglioni, Vienna (until 1926; his sale, Frederik Müller, Amsterdam, July 13–15, 1926, no. 21, ?to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris and New York, 1926, sold for $17,500 to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1926–d. 1931)

  • Exhibition History

    Palais des Beaux-Arts Charleroi. "Les arts anciens du Hainaut," 1911, no. 16 (as "Portrait du peintre" by Gossaert, lent by Mme von Kaufmann).

    Berlin. Akademie der Künste. "Ausstellung von Werken alter Kunst," 1914, no. 50 (as "Bildnis eines Mannes," by Gossaert, lent by Frau von Kaufmann).

    New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. 1929, no. 74 (as a Self-Portrait by Mabuse, lent by Michael Friedsam).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.

    Rotterdam. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. "Jean Gossaert dit Mabuse," May 15–June 27, 1965, no. 4.

    Bruges. Groeninge Museum. "Jean Gossaert dit Mabuse," July 10–August 31, 1965, no. 4.

    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. 39.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance," October 6, 2010–January 17, 2011, no. 44.

    London. National Gallery. "Jan Gossaert's Renaissance," February 23–May 30, 2011, no. 44.

  • References

    Max J. Friedländer. "De Verzameling von Kaufmann te Berlijn." Onze Kunst 10 (July–December 1906), p. 34, considers it unlikely to be a self-portrait and suggests that the initials on the hat could stand for "Jesus Maria".

    Ernst Weisz. Jan Gossart gen. Mabuse: Sein Leben und Seine Werke. Parchim i. M., Germany, 1913, pp. 84–85, 115 n. 66, 117, pl. 18, fig. 54, calls it "Herrenporträt" and dates it about 1520–25; considers the monogram J.M. on the hat likely to stand for "Jesus Maria"; compares the treatment of the hand holding an inscribed document with that of Jan van Eyck's "Tymotheos" in the National Gallery, London.

    Max J. Friedländer. Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei. Berlin, 1916, p. 187.

    T[ancred]. B[orenius]. "Monthly Chronicle: The Kaufmann Sale." Burlington Magazine 32 (January 1918), p. 36, no. 91.

    Achille Ségard. Jean Gossart dit Mabuse. Brussels, 1924, pp. 178, no. 11, ill. opp. p. 136, calls it Portrait of a Man.

    Max J. Friedländer in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 121, as a self-portrait.

    Max J. Friedländer. "Jan Gossart Bernart van Orley." Die altniederländische Malerei. 8, Berlin, 1930, p. 161, no. 63, pl. 47, as Portrait of a Man.

    Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), pp. 26–28, ill., identify it tentatively as a self-portrait; observe that the type of the signature indicates that the painting dates after 1516.

    "Sir Joshua Reynolds' Collection of Pictures—III." Burlington Magazine 87 (November 1945), p. 263, lists it with works from the Reynolds sale, giving buyer and price information.

    Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 141–42, ill., comment that "it has not the look of a self-portrait," suggesting, nevertheless, that the monogram on the hat probably stands for "Ioannes Malbodius".

    Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 88–89, 130, fig. 32, doubts it is a self-portrait; suggests that the monogram on the sitter's hat may indicate that he was guild doyen for the year, having drawn the winning wax ball marked with J M for "Jesus Maria" from the traditional guild lottery.

    H. Pauwels, H. R. Hoetink, and S. Herzog. Jean Gossaert dit Mabuse. Exh. cat., Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. [Bruges], [1965], pp. 65–66, no. 4, ill., states that the sitter bears no resemblance to the portraits of Gossart engraved by Hondius, Wiericz and Galle, all of which derive from the same prototype; finds it credible that the initials on the hat might relate to guild status as explained in Ref. Larsen 1960.

    Sadja Jacob Herzog. "Jan Gossart, called Mabuse (ca. 1478–1532): A Study of his Chronology with a Catalogue of his Works." PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, 1968, vol. 2, pp. 238–39, no. 14; vol. 3, fig. 18, based on the vertical format, crowded subject, expressionless face, and dark background, places this portrait with Gossaert's early portraits, before about 1516; the latinized signature, however, suggests to her that the portrait cannot date much earlier than 1516.

    Lorne Campbell. Unpublished text for MMA Bulletin. 1981, tentatively dates this portrait to the 1520s; believes the letters on the sitter's hat are likely to stand for "Iesus Maria" and to be a mark of the sitter's piety.

    Guy Bauman. "Early Flemish Portraits, 1425–1525." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 43 (Spring 1986), pp. 42, 48, ill. (color), places it during the first half of the 1520's and believes the letters on the hat ornament are most likely an abbreviation for "the common Christian invocation 'Ihesus Maria'"; sees the portrait as a conscious revival of Eyckian models such as Jan's "Tymotheos" of 1432 [National Gallery, London].

    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, 338, no. 255, ill.

    Véronique Sintobin in From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 69, 74, 190–91, no. 39, ill. (color)

    , dates it 1520–25.

    Ariane Mensger. Jan Gossaert: Die niederländische Kunst zu Beginn der Neuzeit. Berlin, 2002, p. 160, fig. 88.

    Maryan W. Ainsworth in Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2010, pp. 69–70, 81, 86 n. 1, 252, 256–58, 268, no. 44, ill. (color) and fig. 6G (color detail).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History