Portrait of an Old Man

Hugo van der Goes Netherlandish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 602

In this closely observed and sympathetic portrayal of an old man, special attention is given to how light models the subject’s wrinkled, time-worn face. This objective realism is characteristic of the paintings of Hugo van der Goes, especially those of the early 1470s. However, Hugo’s works do not include independent portraits, and additionally, the technique of oil on paper is relatively rare. The extremely tight cropping of the image, uniform brownish background, and absence of any projecting shadow from the head indicate that this portrait was made as a detailed preliminary study for inclusion in a larger composition.

Portrait of an Old Man, Hugo van der Goes (Netherlandish, Ghent, active by 1467–died 1482 Roode-Klooster), Oil on paper, laid down on wood

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