This amusing painting is the work Willem van Mieris, son of renowned Leiden painter Frans van Mieris I and propagator of his family's finely painted genre scenes. Willem van Mieris clearly looked to the model of his father, who created a painting of a rotund man with strikingly similar features holding a large roemer, dated 1668 and now in a private collection (Naumann, op. cit, II, no. 72, pp. 87-88). Willem apparently favored the subject, for in addition to the present work, a nearly identical figure can be found in another painting by him now in a private collection (see Naumann, op. cit., II, no. C72, pp. 157-158; Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 18 May 2004, lot 9).
Early in its history, the present work was enlarged on all four sides to include a painted niche, mentioned already in a sale catalogue from The Hague in 1733. Such additions were common for paintings by members of the Van Mieris family (see Q. Buvelot and O. Naumann, 'Format changes in paintings by Frans van Mieris the Elder', The Burlington Magazine, CL, February 2008, pp.102-104). While the quality of the handling suggests that the niche was not the work of Van Mieris himself, the additions were done so seamlessly as to remain undetectable on the reverse of the panel. They appear to have been added in order to make the painting a pendant with a panel by his father, also listed in the 1733 catalogue. This work, now in a private collection, depicts a woman reading and a seated man (Naumann, op. cit., II, no. 92, pp. 103-104); it has the same type of additions as the present work, as well as a partial signature of Frans van Mieris I.
We are grateful for Otto Naumann for confirming the attribution to Willem van Mieris, based on firsthand examination (16 November 2012).
J.B. Descamps, La vie des peintres flamands, allemands et hollandois, Paris, 1840-1843, III, p. 21.
J. Smith, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish and French painters, London, 1829, I, no. 18, p. 67, as Frans van Mieris.
C. Hofstede de Groot, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch painters of the seventeenth century based on the work of John Smith, London, 1928, X, no. 115, p.32, as 'Frans van Mieris'.
O. Naumann, Frans van Mieris (1635-1681) The Elder, Doornspijk, 1981, no. 93, p. 104, plate 93.
PROPERTY OF A SOUTHEASTERN COLLECTOR
Anonymous sale; Adriaan Bout, The Hague, 11 August 1733, lot 52, as 'Frans van Mieris'.
Benjamin da Costa; sale, A. Francken, The Hague, 13 August 1764, lot 36, as 'Frans van Mieris the Elder'.
Anonymous sale; Lempertz, Cologne, 8 November 1961, lot 90, as 'Frans van Mieris the Elder' (7,000 DM).
About Willem van Mieris
1662-1747, Leiden, Netherlands, based in Leiden, Netherlands