Portrait of an unknown young man; HL standing, turned to r, looking to front, with mid-length hair, wearing falling collar and cloak Black chalk, touched with grey and brown wash


© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1862,1011.197

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 10
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Lievens.J.27

Dutch Roy XVIIc

Back to search results

Back to catalogue

Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Formerly attributed to Jan Lievens (biographical details | all objects)
After Jan Lievens (biographical details | all objects)
1650 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)
British (all objects)

Portrait of a young man (Johan Baptist van Kessel?); half-length standing, turned to right, looking to front, with mid-length hair, wearing falling collar and cloak. c.1650

Black chalk; framing lines in pen and dark grey ink.

Verso: laid down on eighteenth-century backing sheet.

No watermark visible.

Inscription Content: Inscribed on a remnant of an old mount, pasted to the verso of the backing, in pen and brown ink in an early hand: ‘Johan Baptiste van Kessel peintre fils de Louïs’.

Height: 275 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 24/26mm apart)
Width: 195 millimetres

Generally good, though with some stains and foxing.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, after Jan Lievens, cat. no.27:
The identification of the sitter inscribed on the verso cannot be verified. The only record of an artist called Johan Baptist van Kessel occurs in a document of 1693 revealing that he was active for the King of England, William III.[1]
Although of high quality, the style of the drawing suggests a hand other than Lievens' own. The design could be his, although the Van Dyck mode of representation was widely adopted by other painters. The evenness of the chalk is comparable to only a few of Lievens' portrait drawings of 1649-50 (e.g. those of 'Cornelis Dircksz. Cool' and 'Joannes Oyttenbogaert' now in the Amsterdam Historisch Museum[2]). But in the present work the line is harsher and the leathery surface, combined with the baroque lilt to the outlines, for example under the nearer arm,[3] seem unlike Lievens, under whose name it is retained with reservations.[4]

[1] Wurzbach, 1906, s.v.; if as is here suggested the prototype of the drawing dates from c.1650, the age of the sitter would coincide with that of the Antwerp painter, Jan van Kessel (1626-79), but his second name was not Baptist and his father was not called Louis. His portrait was engraved by A. Voet the Younger after Erasmus Quellinus for de Bie, 1661, p.411 but the resemblance is not convincing (see Hollstein, XLII, p.72, no.35). The other Jan van Kessel, the landscape painter (1641-80), was born too late to come into consideration, and his father's name was Thomas Jacobsz.
[2] Sumowski 1603-4 (Fodor collection, nos.98 and 97 respectively); the former signed and dated 1649, the latter 1650.
[3] In this feature (only) the style resembles van den Eeckhout.
[4] Schneider, 1932/73 (see Lit. below) already found the attribution uncertain ('befriedigt nicht sicher').

London, 1915, p.86, no.10 (by Lievens); Schneider, 1932/73, no.Z.104 (attribution not entirely convincing).

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased from Walter Benjamin Tiffin (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1895, no.405 (by Lievens).

Noticed a mistake? Have some extra information about this object? Please contact us

To bookmark this page select "Bookmark this page" or "Add to favourites" from the web browser menu.