Jan Vermoelen (1589–1656) came from an old, influential Antwerp family. This portrait dates from 1616, and captures the young man at the age of twenty-seven, in other words before the start of his successful career, which saw him become General Commissioner and Admiral of the Spanish fleet. Vermoelen appears in black clothing against a dark background in which a magnificent armchair – a frequently recurring motif in the Flemish master’s portraits – sets a colourful accent. Rubens reproduces the matt, golden-brown embossed texture of the leather by omitting its ornamental forms, thus allowing the ground to show through at these points. He thus d an illusion of the embossed pattern. This shows a certain mastery in handling paint, and an economical approach. The ochre ground that appears here gives the whole picture a gentle warmth. Fashionable dress of the time included a white, stiff ruff that framed the face. Rubens modelled the features powerfully by accentuating the flesh tones with his typical red and blue notes. And he applied paint thickly, to accents that structured areas of uniform colour thus the black robe stood out from the background, which was also black.
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Peter Paul Rubens
Portrait of Jan Vermoelen, 1616
Oil on panel
height 126 cm, width 96 cm
Dated top left: AETATIS SVE Ao 1616
Inv.-No. GE87
Provenance: presumably from 1656 in the possession of Peter Vermoelen, brother of Jan Vermoelen before 1805 acquired by Prince Alois I von Liechtenstein (mentioned as ‘purchased’ in Dallinger’s 1805 catalogue of the collection)
Further works on display
Decius Mus relating his dream, 1616/1617
Decius Mus preparing for Death, 1616/1617
The Death of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Obsequies of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Dismissal of the Lictors, 1616/1617
The Interpretation of the Victim, 1616/1617
The Trophy, 1616/1617
The Assumption of the Virgin, c. 1637
Venus in Front of the Mirror, 1614/1615
Oil sketch of Mars and Rhea Silvia, c. 1616/1617
Mars und Rhea Silvia, c. 1616/1617
The Discovery of the Infant Erichthonius, c. 1616
Satyr and Maid with Fruit Basket, 1615
The Lamentation, c. 1612
Christ Triumphant over Sin and Death, 1615/1622
Double Portrait of Albert and Nikolaus Rubens, c. 1626/1627
Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens, c. 1616
Henry IV seizes the Opportunity to conclude Piece, 1628
The Victory of Henry IV at Coutras, 1628
The Consecration of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Obsequies of Decius Mus
Three Music-Making Angels, on the reverse side of St Joachim, 1615/1620
St. Catherine in the Clouds, 1620/1621
Four Music-Making Angels, on the reverse side of St Anne, 1615/1620
Apollo in the Chariot of the Sun, 1621/1625
The Conversion of St. Paul, 1601/1602
Perseus and Andromeda
The Virgin adorned with flowers, 1609/1610
Psyche taken up into Olympus, 1621
Landscape with Milkmaids and Cows, 1616
Allegory of war, 1628
The Hunt of Meleager and Atalanta, 1628 (?)
The Assumption of the Virgin, modello, 1637
Ganymede, 1611/1612
Diana´s Hunt, 1628
St. Francis of Assisi before the Crucified Christ, 1625
Portrait of a Monk (?)
Adoration of the Magi, 1609/1610
The Visitation, 1611/1612
Portrait of Nicolaas Rockox, 1615
Samson and Delilah, c. 1610
Related themes
Rubens in Wien
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