notes, finds & fragments of research
Sotheby’s, Old Master and British Paintings Day Sale,
London 8 December 2011,
Lot 226 (estimation: 6,000-8,000 GBP)
How awful – when you see a portrait like the one above and the description is nothing more than ‘Portrait of a Young Man’. I am posting this portrait because it is painted by Hendrick Berckman, a painter known for having depicted quite the number of Dutch merchants, regents, and other social climbers of the seventeenth century. Chances are very high, that I may count this proud young man in his twenties (or thirties?) among the many people in my research databases of the Zeeland elite. But will I ever find the name that belongs to his face? It is not very likely at this point, and it pains me. There is no coat of arms, no sign hinting to his identity – merely the rich cloth of his apparel, the gloves in his right hand that could be hinting to a (upcoming?) marriage, and the fact that he looks like most seventeenth century men. He’s Dutch and most likely from Zeeland, that is not a fact written in stone, but after having studied other works painted by Berckman, it is something I do dare to say at this point. The only thing that could save him from this lingering in the shades of eternal anonymity is the provenance, but even then – a probability is the highest reachable, a full certainty it will never become.
Oh – how – awful! And he just looks like the man who would have thoroughly hated it to end up being unknown.