Man Weighing Gold

Artist: Adriaen Isenbrant (Netherlandish, active by 1510–died 1551 Bruges)

Date: ca. 1515–20

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 20 x 12 in. (50.8 x 30.5 cm), with added strips of 1 3/4 in. (4.5 cm) at left and right

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931

Accession Number: 32.100.36


This portrait is among the first to depict a professional activity. Weighing gold coins while dressed in expensive fur, the sitter may have been one of the many merchants in Bruges who handled commodities, a money changer, or a banker, like Tommaso Portinari (14.40.626). In contrast to Memling’s portrait, the source of this sitter’s wealth is part of the subject, and the man is defined by his profession, not his piety. Isenbrant occupied a prominent position in Bruges, and ran a busy shop that produced works for both the local market and the export trade.