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Portrait of a Young Man

Portrait of a Young Man

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

The Dutch School painters can be dated as Early Netherlandish (1400–1500), Dutch Renaissance (1500–1584), and, later, Dutch Golden Age painting in the United Provinces. The detailed realism of Early Netherlandish painting, led by Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck in the 1420s and 1430s, is today generally considered to be the beginning of the early Northern Renaissance in painting. This style was greatly respected in Italy, but there was little reciprocal influence on the North until nearly the end of the 15th century. Despite frequent cultural and artistic exchange, the Antwerp Mannerists (1500–1530) were unrelated to Italian Mannerism. Among notable northern painters were highly individualistic artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder who developed styles that were imitated by many subsequent generations. In the 16th century northern painters increasingly traveled to Italy, so the art of Michelangelo and Raphael and the late Renaissance Mannerism had a great impact on their work. Hieronymus Bosch and Geertgen tot Sint Jans are well-known examples of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Dutch painters. In the northern Netherlands, the Reformation brought religious painting almost completely to an end. Portrait painting was slow to spread from the elite to new riches. By the end of the 16th century, artists such as Karel van Mander and Hendrik Goltzius collected in Haarlem in a brief but intense phase of Northern Mannerism that also spread to Flanders. Between 1605 and 1635 over 100,000 paintings were produced in Haarlem. Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Jan Steen are just a few names form the seventeenth century.



1472 - 1474


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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