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Gerard ter Borch, Portrait of a Young Man

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Young Man
Artist Gerard ter Borch
Artist dates 1617 - 1681
Date made about 1663
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 67.3 × 54.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1894
Inventory number NG1399
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Young Man
Gerard ter Borch

In the early 1660s, when this portrait was made, this fancy outfit, bedecked with ruffles, ribbons and lace, was the height of sophisticated dressing, inspired by the latest fashions in Paris and employing the most expensive fabrics and tailoring.

We don’t know who the sitter is, though it seems almost certain that he was a wealthy burgher from the Dutch town of Deventer where ter Borch had settled in 1654. He was certainly a man of status, upright and conscious of demonstrating his social and financial status.

And he was apparently not afraid to alienate some of his more conservative contemporaries. Such ostentatious dressing was not universally approved of in the Netherlands at the time. Stricter Calvinists (who followed Calvinism, a branch of Protestantism) would certainly have raised their eyebrows at what one contemporary writer referred to as ‘immoderately loose and long garments… redolent of over-abundance and profligacy’.

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