Portrait of a Young Man

Artist: Hans Memling (Netherlandish, Seligenstadt, active by 1465–died 1494 Bruges)

Date: ca. 1472–75

Medium: Oil on oak panel

Dimensions: Overall 15 3/4 x 11 3/8 in. (40 x 29 cm); painted surface 15 1/8 x 10 3/4 in. (38.3 x 27.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.112


One of the most sought-after Netherlandish portrait painters of his time, Memling’s meticulous attention to detail is notable in the remarkable naturalism of the sitter’s physiognomy and the texture of his velvet, fur-trimmed tunic. The young man was likely one of the many Florentine visitors to, or residents of, Bruges, several of whom commissioned portraits from the artist. It appears that shortly after it was painted, the panel was sent to Florence, where it provided inspiration to Italian artists, who deeply admired Netherlandish painting. A Madonna and Child (Louvre, Paris) painted about 1476-77 and variously attributed to Verrocchio and Ghirlandaio, includes the same landscape vista and classicizing columns. The Italianate columns, which indicate Memling’s familiarity with Italian art and would have pleased his Florentine patron, illustrate that the relationship between Northern and Southern European artists was one of reciprocal influence.