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Jacob Van Loo (Belgian, 1614-1670)

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Portrait of a Gentleman

Portrait of a Gentleman, c1668
Oil on canvas
MSU Purchase, Emma G. Holmes Endowment and Friends of Kresge Art Museum in honor of their 30th anniversary

Thanks to the Friends of the Museum and the Emma G. Holmes Endowment, this superb, large Dutch portrait painting was purchased to honor the Friends of Kresge Art Museum’s 30th anniversary. Dressed in the latest (black) fashion, this gentleman posed for his portrait in the late 1660s in Paris. The city is inscribed on the small note he holds in his right hand for us to see. Unfortunately, the other words on the paper that might have helped in identifying who he is can no longer be read. Nevertheless, his thoughtful pose, large scale, and wonderfully textured garments create an impressive vibrant portrait of a prosperous professional.

The painter Jacob Van Loo (1614-1670) was born in Flanders but came to prominence in Amsterdam where he moved in 1642. A contemporary of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Bartholomeus van der Helst, Van Loo was well known for his conversation groupings that stressed, as seen here, a subtle color palette. In 1658 he was commissioned to paint two group portraits; the Regents and the Regentesses of the Harlem Almshouse, now in the Frans Hals Museum in Harlem. Van Loo’s ability to convey emotions and his harmonious use of color were to influence Jan Vermeer. In 1660 he moved to Paris and three years later, was admitted as a portrait painter into the Royal Painting Academy. In France, influenced by contemporaries, Van Loo’s portraits became even more eloquent in gesture and graceful refinement. His art is evidence of the internationalization of the Baroque style and the mobility of the 17th century European artist.

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