Portrait of Frederick Sluysken

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 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. The boy has recently been identified as Frederick Sluysken, who was a second cousin of Bol’s wife. Frederick was the son of a wealthy wine merchant, which explains why the goblet plays such a prominent role in the composition.

Key facts

Artist dates
1616 - 1680
Full title
Portrait of Frederick Sluysken
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