Simon Du BoisPortrait of a Gentleman, probably Arthur Parsons MD 1683

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Artwork details

Simon Du Bois (1632‑1708)
Portrait of a Gentleman, probably Arthur Parsons MD
Date 1683
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 769 x 642 x 19 mm frame: 947 x 822 x 65 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Patrons of British Art through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1998
Not on display


Born in Antwerp, Simon du Bois studied with Philips Wouwerman in 1652-3 and then spent some years in Italy. In about 1680 he settled in Covent Garden in London. Granted British denization (a form of naturalisation) in 1697, du Bois also acted as a dealer in works of art. As well as portraits, du Bois painted battle scenes and pastiches of Italian Old Masters, some of which, according to the antiquarian and engraver George Vertue, were passed off as genuine.

Du Bois's earliest English works, of which this is one, are head-and-shoulders portraits in plain, feigned oval surrounds. They are characterised by strong Italianate lighting, a fuzzy handling of the flesh and an exceptional precision in depicting the fashionable lace cravats worn by his male sitters. They are thus a vivid fusion of Netherlandish and Italian elements. The Tate portrait particularly emphasises the Italianate element in the melting pot of Continental influences that made up late seventeenth-century art in Britain. The work is in excellent condition, and is in an elaborately carved and gilded frame that is probably contemporary with it… (read more)

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