Portrait of Oswolt Krel by Albrecht Dürer, 1499

Oswolt Krel was the representative of the Great Ravensburg Trading Company in Nuremberg from 1494 to 1503. Albrecht Dürer painted his portrait, which is actually the centerpiece of a sort of triptych, in 1499.

Portrait of William Shirley by Thomas Hudson, 1750

Portrait of William Shirley by Thomas Hudson, 1750

A while ago I posted Sir Joshua Reynolds’ portrait of John Simpson, noting that the sitters style of dress was somewhat different from anything I had seen in contemporary portraits. Here is a similar example, twenty-five years earlier. The painter is Thomas Hudson, the sitter is William Shirley, colonial governor of Massachusetts.

The oldest example of such a three-piece suit—coat, waistcoat and pants all of the same fabric—I have found yet is Cornelis Troost’s portrait of a music lover 1736, here in a modest gray, as befits a Dutch Calvinist. This type of suit was probably more common in the Protestant countries, but the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a 1755 French example, which is very similar to the suit William Shirley wears.

Portrait of David Hume by Allan Ramsay, 1766

The Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist David Hume was fifty-five years old when Allan Ramsay painted his portrait in 1766. Another page in the book, “when men were still allowed to wear colors.”

Portrait of Buffon by François-Hubert Drouais (1753)

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was an eminent naturalist. His Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, which appeared 1749–1788 in 36 volumes, is still rather popular in antiquarian bookshops. when Drouais painted his portrait in 1753, he wore a velvet coat and an embroidered silk vest. Few paintings show the French men’s fashion of the time in such detail and brilliance.

Portrait of John Simpson, of Bradley Hall, Northumberland, 1775

John Simpson, of Bradley Hall, Northumberland, was sixty-five when Sir Joshua Reynolds painted his portrait. His style of dress is somewhat different from anything I’ve seen in contemporary portraits, it may have been slightly eccentric at the time, I don’t know. But in general the idea that men should not be allowed to wear bright colors had not entered anybody’s mind yet.

Portrait of Maria Serra Pallavicino by Peter Paul Rubens

Another Rubens portrait, of another Genoese lady, from the same year as the one of Marchesa Brigida Spinola-Doria, 1606. The sitter is Maria Serra Pallavicino, wife of Nicolò Pallavicino, who was host to Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, in that year. Rubens was on the Duke’s paylist, and the portrait was probably a present.

By 1780, when it was listed in Ratti’s guide to Genoa, the identity of the sitter had been forgotten. It was later acquired by the Grimaldi family, and believed to be a portrait of Isabella Grimaldi. In 1840, it was bought by an English collector and is now at the Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset. You can find more details on the description page of the National Trust.

Portrait of Marchesa Brigida Spinola-Doria by Peter Paul Rubens

The Spinola and the Doria were two of the most powerful families in the Most Serene Republic of Genoa. The smiling lady is descended from the first and had married one of the latter, Giacomo Massimiliano Doria, shortly before this portrait was painted in 1606. Her name is Marchesa Brigida Spinola-Doria, and she was 22 years old at the time.

Rubens shows an incredible skill in painting the shiny surface of the satin dress, partly learned from studying Venetian painters, he had travelled through Italy since 1600. The picture is also a good example of the fashion of the time, huge ruffs that make the wearer look a bit like John the Baptist after Salome danced the dance of seven veils.

The painting is now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Its description page there has some additional details.

Madame de Verniac by Jacques-Louis David

Jacques-Louis David’s historical pieces are mainly political pamphlets, his mythological paintings are often outright ridiculous, but he was a fitting court painter for Napoleon, and a good portraitist, though he never tries to hide the fact that his models are posing for him.

Among his portraits, I like this one best. It shows Henriette Verniac, daughter of Charles-François Delacroix, who had been a secretary to Turgot, a deputy to the National Convention, and a Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was also the official, though most likely not the real father of Eugène Delacroix, who was born about a year before this portrait was painted.

Henriette Verniac’s portrait is a good example of the gallo-grecque fashion of the Directoire and Consulat.

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