FERDINAND VAN KESSEL
Antwerp, 1648 – Bréda, 1696?
Portrait of gentleman
oil on canvas, cm 69,5×56
signed on the back: Ferdi:nt Van Kessel F.
The portrayed gentleman, who is sporting the typical large wig with ringlets that was fashionable in the late Seventeenth century, is observing the onlooker with a confident and satisfied air. The splendid portrait is, as the signature on the back of the canvas attests in elegant handwriting, the work of the son of Jan van Kessel, famous painter from Antwerp, Ferdinand van Kessel; he worked in Breda for John III Sobieski, king of Poland, and as court painter of governor Webbenom. The painting is a valuable document towards knowing van Kessel junior because – as Mina Gregori, author of a study on the work – points out, no other signed works are known. The expert, who does not believe it can be a matter of a self-portrait since the records remember the painter as “sick and deformed”, underscores that this work allows us to appreciate the skills of van Kessel as an “excellent portraitist”, as witnessed by the refined execution of the flesh tones, the confident and elegant touch, the efficient psychological rendition of the portrayed personality.