Man Weighing Gold

Adriaen Isenbrant Netherlandish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 612

Dressed in fashionable black and expensive fur, this pensive sitter holds up a scale. Gold coins glint on the table in front of him. Occupational portraits were growing in popularity in the early sixteenth century, when Isenbrant completed this work. The wealthy sitter appears defined by his profession, not his piety. He may have been a merchant who dealt in commodities, based in Bruges or Antwerp. In international port cities such as these, where currencies from across Europe were in circulation, weighing coins guaranteed their value. Larger moral themes of balance and authenticity may also have been intended here.

Man Weighing Gold, Adriaen Isenbrant (Netherlandish, active by 1510–died 1551 Bruges), Oil on wood

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