HAPPY MYSTERIOUS PORTRAIT MONDAY!
|Jan Van Eyck, 1433 - Now in the National Gallery in London, England|
This famous painting by early Dutch Master Jan Van Eyck goes by many names, including "Portrait of a Man", but many believe it should be named "Jan Van Eyck Self Portrait". The name "Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban" has also been attributed to this painting, which is another mystery - since it's not actually a turban. It is a "Chaperon", a medieval hat or hood worn mainly in Western Europe which began from a practical standpoint and evolved into an expensive and fashionable head piece.
On further analysis, more clues directing us to the man's identity can be found on the frame itself. On the side of the wood is a painted inscription that reads "Jan Van Eyck Made Me on October 21, 1433". This doesn't exactly prove much, but the outfit and headgear on the man indicate it could be a man of Jan Van Eyck's status. The artist also inscribed his own personal motto "I do as I can" at the top of the canvas (a motto he also included on the painted portrait of his wife). Another theory - although perhaps a long shot - is the direct gaze of the sitter. The complete eye-contact is assertive, and would be picked up a few decades later by Albrecht Durer in his own famous self portrait (in which he paints himself in the guise of Jesus - but that's another conversation).
No matter who the figure is, it is still an impressive painting - and even more interesting due to its mysterious identity!
|Albrecht Durer, Self Portrait|