Photo credit: Sheffield Museums
This portrait looks 18th Century and has stylistically nothing in common with the works of Domenicus van Tol, the 17th Century artist from Leiden. One can even wonder if it is Dutch. What have been the arguments in favour of this attribution?
Dr Marion Richards, Art Detective Manager, Art UK has commented: 'Typically, the NICE Paintings record - the outcome of the UK's National Inventory Research Project - recorded traditional attributions and I suspect that the attribution to Van Tol [see https://bit.ly/3oK1FLj] pre-dates its entry to the collection as a gift in 1935.’ Furthermore, the Collection has commented: 'Unfortunately we have no further information prior to it being given by J G Graves in 1935. We would welcome any further information about this work.'
It reminds me a bit of Richard Cosway's self portraits, two of which are on Art UK here:
I like the picture and I will go through some of my portrait archives because it does remind me of a portrait we had some 30 years ago.
I do hope someone figures it out.
I would not exclude the possibility of this being (or being a copy of) a 17th century picture.
Based on what I can see of van Tol's work online, what could be considered portraits are unlike this one; they are basically weaker and more diffident, certainly in effect or presence. True, artists tend to "outdo" themselves on self-portraits, but unless there is more supporting evidence unknown to us for the attribution, it seems less than fully convincing.
It seems to me that a van Tol self-portrait should be along the lines of one by his uncle, Gerrit Dou, whose work van Tol's work resembles. There are several Dou self-portraits at the following link, and they are of a different character:
Van Tol, like Dou, was one of the Fijnschilders, whose work is relatively delicate and small-scale. This portrait is rather more forceful and forward, somewhat reminiscent in feel of the Rubens self-portrait in the Royal Collection (though I am not trying to connect Rubens to this picture):
The costume says that its about 1750-1780. I think that the artist is more likely to be French than Dutch. I agree with the suggestion that Rubens has been an influence on the artist. It is like the work of Sebastien Bourdon 1616-1671, who went to work for the Swedish Royal Family, but it is not him, as there are self portraits of him. There is an influence of Charles le Brun in the intense gaze of the dark eyes.
If this is 1750-1780, the hair is wrong. It should be a wig or something less natural. The clothes look rather non-specific to me, meaning I do not think they are necessarily 18th century and could be earlier.
I have a feeling this is a copy, in which case it could have been made in the 19th century.
“WHO IS BEING PORTRAYED HERE, IF NOT DOMENICUS VAN TOL?”
This discussion attracted 10 contributions in the week following its launch on 27 May 2021 and then went quiet.
The NICE catalogue entry under “Literature” refers to Laabs, A.,” Von der lustvollen Betrachtung der Bilder. Leidener Feinmaler in der Dresdener Gemaldegalerie”, Dresden, 2000. However this is no more than the catalogue entry for a genre scene by Van Tol. More helpful is the illustration of a self portrait by Gerrit Dou, “Self Portrait of the Artist in his Art Cabinet”.
I attach a composite showing a detail of the Dou set against the “Van Tol” of this discussion. The two works are not the same. There are other pictures from the Rembrandt circle, for example by Ferdinand Bol, which show somewhat similarly dressed and posed figures as the Dou and the “Van Tol”
On this basis, despite the self-evident differences, my sense is that the portrait under discussion is likely to be Dutch dating from the late 17th century. Could it be French as suggested? This suggestion needs to be supported by identifying comparable pictures and I rather doubt it. Could it be 18th century as suggested? There was a revival for pictures in the 17th-century style in the mid-18th century, at least in Britain, but in this case I rather doubt it in the absence of comparators. Could it be a copy as suggested? The handling is sufficiently lively to be an original and in any case this would have been a very obscure picture to copy.
As to whether the portrait is by Van Tol, nothing comparable has yet emerged in his work, which is largely devoted to genre paintings. “Van Tol” may have been a useful and obscure “dustbin label” used by whoever sold this picture to the donor before it came to the museum in the 1930s.
The Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie should be able to identify this quite distinctive artist if an image was sent to it
The Rijksbureau has an extensive photographic library which probably can be consulted under 'portrait'
It has over 3800 images of self portraits to sift through!
The portrait could be Austrian - compare Christian Seybold on rkd for period
earlyish 18th century perhaps - very hard to find comparative Dutch portraitists
A costume historian should be able to provide much more precision over the date
RKD is a good idea.
Seybold's handling is harder; I fear that the resemblances are superficial.
The costume seems to me to have a generalised romanticised appearance and as such not dateable with any degree of confidence.
I was not intending to attribute this to Seybold , more to encourage looking beyond the Dutch and I very much doubt that this is British or French - romanticised certainly - a term in this contect pointing to post 1700
I’m an art historian from Hamburg, Germany and while researching I stumbled upon your interesting website and this discussion in particular. Due to my own researches concerning the history of baroque portraiture I’m a bit familiar with stylistical tendencies and variants.
Summarizing your discussion I add my opinion – maybe my thoughts are helpful. And please apolagize my english – I‘m not a native speaker.
Dating: chlothing and hair are indeed too unspecific, but in my opinion style, excecution and artistic approach make it possible to date this painting ‚about 1750‘.
Copy or original: judging at first glance the painting constists of quite good and on the other hand of lousy sections. It’s appearance is not as consistent as it should be. Artists self portraits are often painted with a free and relaxed hand celebrating a lot of abbreviations but in the end it makes a unit. For me there are gaps - I can’t bring the parts together… . What about pourly excecuted and distorting restaurations (collar?). Additionally and in the end this work of art looks indeed somehow like a copy of an mid 18th century painting for me.
Artist: as mentioned ‚looking beyond dutch‘ might be the correct direction for attributing. As determined this is not Seybolds style, but directing the discussion towards the german school in general seems helpful to me. So what about going further and not stopping in Vienna? What about having the circles of Ádám Mányoki and Johann Kupetzky (Jan Kupecký), the austro-bohemian school and the provincal central euopean school in general in mind? I browsed through my library and the internet for bringing artist self portraits of this provenance before my eyes. And for me there’re some similarities connecting this portrait in question with the style of this – for sure very broadly defined – school (dark tones, casual or even careless brush, a special rustic – barely bohemian or aristocratic – artistical approach in an somehow provincial manner).
Finally it’s – due to nearly every artists different approach to either portraits or self portraits (different ‚modi‘ if you like) – often hard to ascribe an artists self portrait… . As this case shows.
Maybe this discussion will be closed one day successfully: good luck to every one of us. I‘ll keep the task in mind,
best regards Dirk
On Meisterdrucke, the art repro site- this is a copy of a "Painter-second half 18th century". Looks rather familiar! Wonder if it is a mish mash copy of our painting here- or is it of an original somewhere else- in which case it raises suspicions in my mind???
We have had suggestions of date (c.1750-80) and school (German/Austrian) that makes Louis Musgrive's discovery of an image apparently associated with Anna Dorothea Therbusch (1721-82) not entirely implausible.
There was a big exhibition of her work recently: 'Anna Dorothea Therbusch - A Berlin Woman Artist of the Age of Enlightenment'
03.12.2021 to 10.04.2022 at the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.
We should try and contact the organisers regarding our painting.
The Therbusch portrait in question looks (and obviously is) clearly 18th C, while ours does not. To me it looks more 17th C, but I suppose it could be based or derived from the Therbusch.
The portrait found by Louis at an art reproduction site is supposedly in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, but I could not find it in its website (which is rather less than optimal). Perhaps someone else may have better luck.
The only thing by Therbusch I can find at the Pushkin Museum is https://tinyurl.com/3vjc3san
Following Andrew Greg's suggestion of 14/11/23, if anyone already plans to contact the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin could they let me know please, otherwise I'll make a note to do that next week.
It is possible that the portrait found by Louis, assuming it really was/is at the Pushkin Museum, may no longer be attributed to Therbusch. The Gemäldegalerie should be asked not only about our picture but about the one Louis found, which seems connected to ours.
I have sent messages with links to this discussion to RKD and the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.
From the photograph on Art UK, Bart Cornelis thinks it is an (early?) 18th-century take on a 17th-century example, British, or possibly French, but he does not see it as Dutch.
Elizabeth Lindley, Assistant Curator – Visual Art, Sheffield Museums Trust has replied,
'I took the attached photographs of the frame when I was at the store in December but I’m afraid as I was there alone, I wasn’t able to assess the reverse. I should be at the painting store which our technicians in the coming weeks so I will be able to access it properly then.
J G Graves is one of the key benefactors of Sheffield’s Visual Art collection and a large number of works were donated by him in several bequests. As I understand it, however, there have been a number of works for which the attributions given by Graves have turned out to be inaccurate so I think it’s sensible to query the attribution in this case.
You can find out more about J G Graves on the websites below (and elsewhere online), but please do let me know if you have any specific queries.'
The collection has kindly posted an image of the frame. It does not appear to be original to the painting. I suspect that the inner flat and the corner ornament have both been added in the course of fitting the painting to the frame, perhaps in the 19c.
My reaction was similar to that of Dirk Krützfeldt above (26/10/2023): a self portrait by a later artist who saw himself in the tradition of Rembrandt, Govert Flinck etc. That led me to the RKD's Gerson Digital project (named after Horst Gerson):
Most of the German painters shown there make more of an effort to display their social status than the present painter. However there is a portrait of the sculptor Paul Egell by Johann Georg Dathan (1701-1749) which shows some similarities:
Dathan worked in Speyer and Mannheim, but lived in Amsterdam c.1730-1736 painting portraits. Just a suggestion that might be worth adding to the mix. There are still more Gerson Digital pages to come (Gerson Digital: Sweden, 2024).
That second link does not work. Try:
Elizabeth Lindley has kindly looked on the reverse of the picture but unfortunately it has a contemporary backboard and the only labels remaining on the reverse are Sheffield Museums’ own accessioning labels. There is also a handwritten label that reads simply: ‘Dominicus Tol Self Portrait’ but this too looks quite contemporary. She will check the artist file in case any historic labels have been kept there.