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Painting Title Portrait of a Bearded Man
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to the circle of Corneille de Lyon (Netherlandish painter, born 1500-1510, died 1575, active in France)
Previously attributed to Amberger, Christoph (German painter, born ca. 1505, died 1561 or 1562)
Date Earliest possibly about 1540
Date Latest 1575

The bearded sitter is inclined towards the left, a half-length figure; his coat has an ermine collar. Ludwig Baldass has noted certain resemblances between this portrait and four others by Amberger in the Prado, the Kunsthistoriche Museum, Vienna, and the Count Harrach Gallery, Vienna, suggesting that all four male sitters may be members of the same Augsburg patrician family, and suggested dating c. 1552. The style is very linear, and does not entirely fit the Amberger's, as he painted in a softer way and textures like fur or hair were softer in his portraits.

YORAG : 754 is painted on a mahogany panel, quite rare in Europe prior to the 17th century. However it seems to have been used by the workshop of Claude Corneille de Haye, called Corneille de Lyon (a portrait painter from The Hague, who was active in Lyon from 1533 until his death in 1575). Stylistically the portrait also seems very close to works attributed to Corneille or his workshop, especially in the linear and somehow sketchy way of depicting hair and fur; the composition and green background also fit Corneille's oeuvre. Nevertheless, there are also some significant differences: above all, the shadow in the background is much more distinctive than in other portraits by Corneille de Lyon, as he usually portrayed his models almost detached from the background. On the other hand, the background shadow in YORAG : 754 seems to be very close to that in paintings attributed to the workshop of Corneille de Lyon (e.g. the presumed portrait of Anne Stuart in the Louvre, Paris, R.F. 1938-8). Finally, the main difference between the works of Corneille de Lyon and the portrait in York is the size - portraits by Corneille were almost miniatures, usually not bigger than around 20 cm in high, while the portrait in York is nearly twice that. It seems reasonable to suggest an attribution to the circle of Corneille de Lyon, but leaving it open for further research.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 754
Subject portrait
Measurements 38.7 x 33.6 cm
Material oil on panel (mahogany)
Acquisition Details Given by F.D. Lycett Green through the National Art Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance In Vienna before 1918; A. S. Drey, Munich, 1932; from whom purchased by F.D. Lycett Green.
Principal Exhibitions F.D. Lycett Green Gift, York City Art Gallery, 1955, no. 29.
Publications Baldass, L., ‘Studien zur Ausgburger Porträtmalerei des 16. Jahrhunderts: III. Christoph Amberger als Bildnismaler', Pantheon, 9, 1932, pp. 177-184; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, p. 87, pl. 82 as by Christoph Amberger; Catalogue Supplement 1974: Amendments and Additions to Catalogue Volumes I and II, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1975, p. 12 as by Amberger; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 235 as by Christoph Amberger.
Notes There are two red wax seals on the back, one of them with a monogram AR&E. and the other containing the inscription 'K. K. H.-Zoll-Legstätte Wien' which refers to the main customs house in Vienna ('Kaiserlich-Königliche Haupt-Zoll-Legstätte'). In the Austrian-Hungarian Empire such offices existed in Vienna and in the capitals of the provinces; the seals have to date before 1918. According to Walter Öhlinger from Wien Museum, the term 'Haupt-Zoll-Legstätte' appeared in documents from about 1820-1840. Dr. K. Loecher (letter in the gallery files dating 17 August 1973) declined to attribute the painting and suggested a date of around 1550 and the influence of Netherlandish and Venetian art.

Francis Denis Lycett Green (1893-1959) was a member of the wealthy industrial Green family from Wakefield that was among the great philanthropic benefactors of York. He began buying pictures during the 1920s, advised by some of the most famous art historians of the day. By the 1940s, he owned examples from almost every school and period of European Art – a comprehensive collection of over 130 paintings dating back from the early 14th century to the end of the 18th century, representing every important European school of art. In 1952, he offered it to the National Gallery of South Africa, having moved to Cape Town in the hope that the climate would improve his health (which was poor because he was badly injured in the First World War). However when a dispute arose with the Cape Town Gallery, Francis withdrew his pictures in protest and shipped them back to England. The entire collection of 130 pictures was at first on loan to the York Art Gallery and in the spring of 1955 he decided to give it to the Gallery.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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