A Portrait by Abraham de Vries Acquired by the Petit Palais in Paris

Abraham de Vries (c. 1590-between 1650 and 1652)
Portrait of a Man, 1629
Oil on Panel - 65.3 x 50.4 cm
Paris, Petit Palais
Photo : Rafael Valls Ltd

22/2/13 - Acquisition - Paris, Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris - It had been much too long since the Petit Palais had acquired an old master painting. This is now corrected with the announcement that the Parisian museum has purchased a portrait of a man by Abraham de Vries from the London gallery, Rafael Valls Ltd.

The signature is written as follows : "Fecit Lutetia A/ de Vris Hollandus/ Ao 1629". That year, 1629, the artist spent time in Paris where he met Rubens in May [1]. The mention of Lutetia confirms that he painted the work in the French capital (there is only one other known painting by him bearing this same inscription), while the inclusion of Hollandus reflects his pride at stating his nationality.
The work, whose whereabouts were formerly unknown, was published in 1982 by Jacques Foucart in an article about Abraham de Vries in France [2]. It suggested that this portrait might represent a goldsmith due to the ring he holds between his fingers, a theory also suggested by the English art dealer. However, as pointed out by the Petit Palais [3], this point is not entirely certain as "the setting of the stone recalls 15th century models rather than a recent jewelry design.".
Whatever the case, the acquisition of this beautiful portrait, with a certain Flemish colorfulness, allows the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris to exhibit a painting by one of the many Northern European artists active in the capital, and also reinforces the portrait genre in the collections which already include, no less, the Self-portrait in Oriental Costume by Rembrandt.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 6 mars 2013


[1] Abraham de Vries and the Flemish master were both friends of the humanist from Aix-en-Provence, Nicolas Peiresc.

[2] Jacques Foucart, "Abraham de Vries en France", Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art français, year 1980-1982, pp. 129-135.

[3] We would like to thank Christophe Leribault for forwarding the information concerning the painting to us.

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