Self-Portrait at the Age of 32
Frans van Mieris the elder (Leiden 1635 - Leiden 1681)
This small self-portrait makes a big statement. Swathed in expensive textiles, this leading figure of the Leiden school of fine-painters (fijnschilders) presents himself at the height of his powers. Caught in the moment of creation with a loaded palette and brushes in his hand and a blank panel (or canvas) before him, Van Mieris rests his elbow on a stone balustrade on which sit a large book and a drawing of a nude, declaring the classical and intellectual grounding of his art. For all its grand rhetoric, the portrait is nonetheless tiny in format and minute in execution, demonstrating the exquisite skill and acute powers of observation that spread this artist’s fame throughout the princely courts of Europe.
Oil painting on panel, Self-Portrait at the Age of 32 by Frans van Mieris the elder (Leyden 1635 - Leyden 1681), signed, dated and inscribed, "F v Mieris p AETAT . 32. Anno 1667". A half-length portrait of the artist, seen behind a stone balustrade on which he rests his right arm, in profile to the right, half-length, head turned towards the spectator; he holds a palette and brushes and wears a pink satin robe and red and green velvet cap; on the ledge beside him is a book and sheet of paper with a figure drawing, behind is an easel.
Marks and inscriptions
FV Mieris p AETAT. 32. Anno 1667 (signed, dated and inscribed)
Makers and roles
Frans van Mieris the elder (Leiden 1635 - Leiden 1681), artist
In Trust for the Nation, National Gallery, London, 1995 - 1996, no.68 Dutch Pictures 1450-1750, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1952 - 1953, no.535
Smith 1829-42 John Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters, 8 vols and supplement, London, 1829-42, vol.II, p.72, no.39 Smith 1842 John Smith, Supplement to the Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, London, 1842, p.41, no.23 Waagen 1854-7: Gustav Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 vols. (translated by Lady Eastlake) with a supplementary volume: Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1854-7, vol.II, p.252 Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French and English Masters (exh cat), British Institution, London, June 1840, no.88 Waagen 1857 Gustav Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857, p.297 Works by the Old Masters and Deceased Masters of the British School (exh cat), Royal Academy, London, 2 January - 11 March 1882, no.110 Moes 1897-1905: Ernst Wilhelm Moes, Iconographia Batava, 2 vols., Amsterdam 1897-1905, vol.II, p.102, no.5060.7 Hofstede de Groot 1907-28 Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts, 10 vols., Esslingen, 1907-28, vol.X, pp.68-9, no.256 Dutch Pictures 1450-1750 (exh cat) Royal Academy, London, 22 November 1952 - 1 March 1953, no.535 Hall 1963 H. van Hall, Portretten van Nederlandse beeldende kunstenaars, Amsterdam, 1963, p.211, no.16 Polesden Lacey, Surrey, 1971 [The National Trust;St. John Gore] 1964; revised 1971, pp.28-9, no.60 Naumann 1978 Otto Naumann, 'Frans van Mieris as a Draughtsman', Master Drawings, XVI/1, Spring 1978, pp.3-4 Naumann 1981 Otto Naumann, Frans van Mieris (1635—1681) the Elder, 2 vols., Doornspijk, 1981, vol.I, pp.70-2, 130-2; vol.II, pp.81-2, no.66 De Hollandse fijn schilders: van Gerard Dou tot Adriaen van der Werff (exh cat) (Peter Hecht), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,18 November 1989 - 25 February 1990, no.17 In Trust for the Nation: Paintings from National Trust Houses (exh cat) (Alastair Laing) The National Gallery, London, 22 November 1995 - 10 March 1996, pp.186-7, no.68 Frans van Mieris 1635 - 1681 (exh cat) (Quentin Buvelot), Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague, 1 October 2005 - 22 January 2006 and National Gallery of Art, Washington, 26 February - 21 May 2006, pp.181-4, no.39 Dutch Self-Portraits of the Golden Age (exh cat) (ed. Ariane van Suchtelen), Mauritshuis, The Hague, 8 October 2015 - 3 January 2016, pp.96-7, no.17 Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses (exh. cat.), Holburne Museum, Bath 25 May - 16 Sep 2018; Mauritshuis, The Hague, 11 Oct 2018 - 6 Jan 2019; Petworth House, West Sussex, 26 Jan - 24 Mar 2019., p.18 Chu 2017: John Chu, The Pictures at Polesden Lacey, National Trust, 2017, p.18 Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry (exh cat) Louvre, Paris, 20 February - 22 May 2017, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 17 June - 17 September 2017, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 22 October 2017 - 21 January 2018, pp. 30-1 Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses (exh. cat.), Holburne Museum, Bath 25 May - 16 Sep 2018; Mauritshuis, The Hague, 11 Oct 2018 - 6 Jan 2019; Petworth House, West Sussex, 26 Jan - 24 Mar 2019., p.21