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Dirk Bouts, Portrait of a Man (Jan van Winckele?)

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man (Jan van Winckele?)
Artist Dirk Bouts
Artist dates 1400? - 1475
Date made 1462
Medium and support Oil with egg tempera on oak
Dimensions 31.6 × 20.5 cm
Inscription summary Dated
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG943
Location Room 28
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Man (Jan van Winckele?)
Dirk Bouts

A fair-haired man stands in an interior, gazing past us. Through the window behind him we can see a landscape with a church in the distance. The date on the back wall makes this the earliest datable – and in fact the only dated painting – by Bouts, and the earliest dated portrait to include an open window looking onto a landscape. Curiously the date’s first three numbers appear to be carved into the plaster, while the fourth stands proud of it.

We are not sure who the sitter is but he might be Jan van Winckele, a prominent citizen of Louvain where Bouts was living in the 1460s, and a friend of the artist. In 1462 van Winckele was given an important post in the university administration. The portrait was perhaps made to commemorate this event.

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