Ambrosius Benson (circa 1495-1550 Bruges) Portrait of a gentleman, half-length, in fur-trimmed robes, holding a letter

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Lot 23
Ambrosius Benson
(circa 1495-1550 Bruges)
Portrait of a gentleman, half-length, in fur-trimmed robes, holding a letter

£ 100,000 - 150,000
US$ 130,000 - 190,000
Ambrosius Benson (circa 1495-1550 Bruges)
Portrait of a gentleman, half-length, in fur-trimmed robes, holding a letter
oil on panel
42.6 x 29.9cm (16 3/4 x 11 3/4in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Private Collection, Poland
    With van Diemen
    With Eduard Plietzsch, Germany, before 1933
    Sale, Lange, Berlin, 7-9 April 1938, lot 2
    Private Collection, UK, for at least 50 years

    Literature
    M. J. Friedländer, Die Altniederlandische Malerei, Die Antwerpener Manieristen Adriaen Ysenbrandt, vol. XI, Leiden, 1934, p.146, no. 281
    G. Marlier, Ambrosius Benson et la peinture à Bruges au temps de Charles-Quint, Damme, 1957, p. 257, 319, n. 140, ill


    The format of the present panel is similar to a Portrait of a Man, 43 x 30 cm., which is in the Bayerisches Staatsgalerie, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (see: G. Marlier, ibid., p. 319, n. 142, Pl. LXXIV). Marlier suggested that it is not entirely typical of Benson and prefigured the work of Nicolas de Neufchâtel. Benson painted relatively few portraits, although they are widely considered to be his best works, in which he enlivened his sitters with individuality, bestowing on them free and varied postures. Although a chronology for much of Benson's oeuvre has proved difficult to establish, Marlier suggested a date here of circa 1540-45 on the basis of the costume.

    According to Marlier, the present portrait was traditionally purported to depict a Spaniard, probably because of the gold pendant with a scallop shell which is commonly associated with Santiago. In fact, Bruges, where Benson was working at this time, had established a flourishing mutual trading relationship with the Spanish city of Segovia, which was a centre for the cloth and wool trades and the house Benson bought, partly in exchange for paintings, belonged to a Spaniard, Lucas de Castro. Moreover, Benson's closest friend and patron, Sancho de Santander, was also of Spanish extraction. The likelihood that Spanish merchants ordered and purchased paintings in Benson's workshop and sent them back to their homeland is supported by the fact that most of the artist's works ended up in Spain.
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