The artistic mastery of the great Pieter Claesz Soutman is fully on display in this highly significant Portrait of a Lady. The portrait brings together the intricate detail, compelling naturalism, and dynamic brushwork of Soutman’s celebrated oeuvre, clearly displaying why he is regarded among the most respected portraitists of the Dutch Golden Age.
Soutman followed in the rich still life tradition of the great Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. He had, in fact, trained with the master in Rubens’ workshop in Antwerp for a period, during which time Rubens’ distinctive style had a decisive and unmistakable influence on the young painter. Like Rubens, Soutman excelled at not only capturing his subjects with a technical perfection but also their inherent elegance and grace. Yet, his subject's sumptuous costume - the millstone ruff, richly embroidered stomacher, draping gold chain, and elegant diadem cap - is entirely Dutch in fashion. The work, thus, presents a stunning and distinctive mixture of the Haarlem and Antwerp styles of painting that make Soutman's portraits among the best of their kind.
Such elaborate and highly detailed costuming in portraiture was a popular way to show one's wealth in the 17th century, particularly among the emerging class of wealthy merchants. This proclivity also earned Soutman his success, as he soon emerged as a highly popular portraitist among the wealthy patrician class in both Antwerp and Haarlem. By 1624, he was being recommended by Rubens as "an excellent painter;" it was that same year that he traveled to Poland, where he was appointed royal court painter to King Sigismund III Vasa.
He returned to Haarlem around 1628, becoming a member of the painter's guild. Though primarily remembered today for his portraits, he was also a well-respected history painter, along with the celebrated Pieter Fransz de Grebber. Today, his works are found in important collections around the world, including the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC), Musée du Louvre (Paris), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Saint Louis Art Museum, among others.
Canvas: 49" high x 36 1/2" wide
Frame: 57 1/2" high x 45" wide
Signature: Inscribed and dated "AE t sve 23 / Anno 1626" (upper right)
Matthew Anderson, Esq., 1851
The Sneyd Collection, Keele Hall, Straffordshire
Sale of the Sneyd Heirlooms, Christie's, June 27, 1924, lot 114
Legggat London, by 1926
Private collection, London
Private collection, Connecticut
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans