This portrait is signed "AM Mignon" and thus was long thought to be by the Frankfurt-born still-life painter Abraham Mignon (1640–79), who spent the latter half of his life in Utrecht (see Moes 1905, Noble 1972, and Noble 1973). It was also traditionally designated a self-portrait, a claim first documented in the catalogue of the 1892 sale in Paris. Although the vase of flowers to the left of the sitter calls to mind Mignon’s specialty as a flower painter, portraits are not otherwise documented in his oeuvre, and the signature is problematic for its combination of a monogram ("AM") with the artist’s full last name. Moreover, as Fred G. Meijer pointed out (verbal opinion, 1995, noted in curatorial file), the costume dates to the early eighteenth century, which places the painting decades after Mignon’s death. Consequently, the painting was excluded from the recent Mignon catalogue raisonné (see Magdalena Kraemer-Noble, Abraham Mignon, 1640–1679, Petersberg, 2007). The signature must be a later addition reflecting a wishful attribution to Mignon.
Meijer (1995) noted a similarity to the style of Arnold Boonen (1669–1729), the well-regarded portraitist born in Dordrecht and active in Amsterdam from 1696 onward. That observation is supported by comparison with works by Boonen from the second and third decades of the eighteenth century, such as Allard de la Court of 1713 (Amsterdam Museum), Jan van Huysum of about 1720 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), and Pieter Calkoen of about 1725 (Instituut Collectie Nederland, Amsterdam), which are comparable in handling, pose, and costume. Although the portrait belonging to the Metropolitan Museum does not show Boonen’s individual style, it appears to be by an artist from his circle and likely dates about 1720. The sitter remains unidentified.
[Joshua P. Waterman 2013]
Inscription: Signed (lower left): AM [monogram] Mignon, f
[Haro, Paris, until 1892; their sale, Sedelmeyer, Paris, May 30–31, 1892, no. 32, as "Son portrait," by Abraham Mignon, 57 x 48 cm, for Fr 1,150]; Hermann Emden, Hamburg (until 1910; his sale, Lepke's, Berlin, May 3, 1910, no. 69, as "Männliches Bildnis," probably bought in); probably by descent to Marcel Aubry, New York (until 1968)
Bronx Museum of the Arts. "I and My World," April 8–May 31, 1974, no catalogue?
E. W. Moes. Iconographia Batava: Beredeneerde Lijst van Geschilderde en Gebeeldhouwde Portretten van Noord-Nederlanders in Vorige Eeuwen. Vol. 2, Amsterdam, 1905, p. 105, no. 5071, lists it as a self-portrait by Abraham Mignon, in the Haro sale of 1892.
H. Mireur. Dictionnaire des ventes d'art . . . Vol. 5, Paris, 1911, p. 195, gives the price at the Haro sale of 1892 as 1,150 francs.
Magdalena Noble. Abraham Mignon, 1640–1679: Beiträge zur Stillebenmalerei im 17. Jht. PhD diss., Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich. Stuttgart, 1972, pp. 28, 174, no. C10, catalogues it among destroyed and lost works as a self-portrait or a portrait of a nobleman; notes that if it is autograph, it was painted during the time Mignon was influenced by his teacher, J. D. de Heem.
Magdalena Kraemer-Noble. Abraham Mignon, 1640–1679. Leigh-on-Sea, 1973, p. 75, no. C10.
Fred G. Meijer. Letter to Walter Liedtke. February 13, 1995, writes that "it is close in style to Arnold Boonen, but appears to be slightly too refined for that master".