Portrait of a Boy aged 8
On loan from a private collection, Hong Kong, © Private Collection, Hong Kong

Bol’s earliest portraits of the 1640s so closely imitate Rembrandt’s style that they were sometimes mistaken for that master’s work. However, by the early 1650s, Bol had adopted a brighter, more colourful palette, and a more elegant style that Amsterdam’s rising merchant class found particularly attractive. He soon became one of the city’s most popular and successful artists.

This engaging likeness of an eight-year-old boy is one of Bol’s finest portraits. The boy – whose identity is not known – is elegantly attired in a grey suit and matching cloak, trimmed with shiny gold buttons and ribbon bows; his wide-brimmed hat is hooked over the back of a chair behind him. He reaches out to grasp the goblet resting at the edge of a table, covered by a plush carpet. The vibrant colours and shimmering highlights of this table-top still life recall the work of Willem Kalf, who moved to Amsterdam in 1653. Full-length portraits at the size of life were highly unusual in 17th-century Holland, indicating, perhaps, that this self-assured young boy was of particularly high social standing.

Key facts

Artist dates
1616 - 1680
Full title
Portrait of a Boy aged 8
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
170 × 150 cm
Inscription summary
signed; dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit
On loan from a private collection, Hong Kong
Inventory number
Location in Gallery