Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


JAN JANSZ. WESTERBAEN THE ELDER (The Hague c. 1600/1602 – The Hague 1686)

Portrait of a Man

oil on panel

28 x 23 inches         (71 x 58 cm.)


Private Collection, New England

Rudolf E.O. Ekkart has confirmed the painting to be by Jan Jansz. Westerbaen the Elder and to probably date to circa 1640.


Paintings by Jan Jansz. Westerbaen the Elder are extremely rare. [1] Rudolph E.O. Ekkart, the former director of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague, as well as the leading authority on Dutch seventeenth century portraiture, has confirmed this panel to be by the artist and proposed a date of circa 1640. He has further noted the “many similarities in the handling of the face, the hair, and the cloths with the paintings…: the one formerly in the collection Galleria Sangiorigi, the one in the National Gallery of Ireland, and the one in Mauritshuis”. [2] Although the identity of our sitter is unknown, he wears a black silk skull cap which was commonly worn by Dutch lawyers of the period. His millstone ruff collar is striking, but perhaps the most notable feature is the fact that he is smiling. Unusual in formal portraiture at the time, it serves to create an immediate bond between the subject and viewer.

Westerbaen began his studies with Evert Cryusz van des Maes in 1619. In 1624 he was admitted to the Guild of Saint Luke in The Hague. In 1642 – 1643 he served as the hoofdman or dean of the guild. He was also one of the organizers of the new Confrere Pictura, the painters’ fraternity in The Hague. Other examples of his work can be found in the museums of Amsterdam, Perth, and Zwolle. Like the father, his son Jan Jansz. Westerbaen the Younger was also a portrait painter. [3]




[1] “Jan Jansz. Westerbaen the Elder” in Mauritshuis, The Royal Cabinet of Paintings Illustrated General Catalogue, Government Publishing Office, the Hague, 1977, p. 257, no. 210.

[2] Written communication from Rudolph E.O. Ekkart, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, dated December 14, 1999.

[3] E. Benezit, “Jan Jansz. Westerbaen le vieux” in Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, Librarie Gründ, Paris, 1976, volume 10, p. 706.

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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