Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Man Weighing Gold

Adriaen Isenbrant (Netherlandish, active by 1510–died 1551 Bruges)
ca. 1515–20
Oil on wood
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
Credit Line:
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 644
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.
Williaim Fuller Maitland, Stansted Hall, Stansted, Essex (by 1854–d. 1876); his son, William Fuller Maitland, Stansted Hall (1876–1922; sale, Christie's, London, July 14, 1922, no. 84, as "The Money Changer" by Mabuse, for £735 to Sabin); [Frank T. Sabin, London, from 1922]; [F. Steinmeyer, Lucerne, until 1923; sold to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1923; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1923–d. 1931)
Leeds City Museum. "National Exhibition of Works of Art," 1868, no. 561 (as "Portrait of a Banker or Merchant" by Holbein, lent by Wm. Fuller Maitland, Esq.).

New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "Flemish Primitives," 1929, no. 65 (as "Portrait of a Man Holding a Money Changer's Scale," by Isenbrant, lent by Col. Michael Friedsam).

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

Kansas City, Mo. Nelson Gallery and Atkins Museum. "Seventh Anniversary Exhibition of German, Flemish, and Dutch Painting," December 1940–January 1941, no. 30 (as "The Gold Weigher").

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. 41 (as "Man Weighing Gold").

[Gustav Friedrich] Waagen. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. London, 1854, vol. 3, p. 6, cites it as a work by Holbein in Stanstead [sic] House, seat of W. Fuller Maitland, Esq.

Max J. Friedländer. Letter to Steinmeyer, Lucerne. March 3, 1923, calls it an excellent and important work by Isenbrant.

Max J. Friedländer in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Ulrich Thieme. Vol. 19, Leipzig, 1926, p. 246.

Max J. Friedländer. "Adriaen Ysenbrant als Porträtmaler." Pantheon 1 (1928), p. 4, ill.

Sidney P. Noe. "Flemish Primitives in New York." American Magazine of Art 21 (January 1930), ill. p. 37.

Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), pp. 24–25, no. 35.

Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 11, Die Antwerpener Manieristen; Adriaen Ysenbrant. Berlin, 1933, pp. 81, 85–86, 139, no. 218, pl. 78.

Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 100–101, ill., identify the sitter as a banker or money changer and consider the portrait to be purely secular; suggest that there may have been a pendant representing the sitter's wife.

Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, p. 82.

Justus Müller Hofstede. "Zür Frühen Bildnismalerei von Peter Paul Rubens." Pantheon 5 (September/October 1962), p. 282, sees in this panel a resemblance to Rubens's portrait of a young man holding a watch [MMA 1982.60.24], particularly in the hands.

Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 11, The Antwerp Mannerists, Adriaen Ysenbrant. New York, 1974, pp. 48, 50, 92, no. 218, pl. 150.

Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, p. 189.

Guy Bauman. "Early Flemish Portraits, 1425–1525." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 43 (Spring 1986), pp. 46–47, ill. (color), calls it "one of the earliest surviving occupational portraits, in which the sitter is shown actually working in his professional environment," although the scales could not have failed to remind contemporaries of Saint Michael's on Judgment Day.

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, p. 340, no. 269, ill.

Véronique Sintobin in From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 140, 194–95, no. 41, ill. (color), dates it 1515–20.

Jean C. Wilson. Paintings in Bruges at the Close of the Middle Ages: Studies in Society and Visual Culture. University Park, Pa., 1998, p. 196, fig. 79.

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