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Portrait of a Man
Gerrit Dou
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In this tiny portrait, an affable young man turns towards us, settling his elbow over the back of his chair. His pipe is paused and he meets our gaze with an easy, relaxed look. Perhaps he has just taken a puff; the tobacco is glowing and smoke twists upwards from the bowl. Other minute details – from the pattern of the gold braid on the man’s hat to the reflections in his eyes – add to the atmosphere, and it is through such meticulous painting that Gerrit Dou has managed to capture the sense of a moment in time, rather than just a deadpan likeness. But the realism belies the point of the painting. Until recently it was thought to be a self portrait, but the similarities with known paintings of Dou are too generic for us to be sure. It is more likely that this is a tronie – an image of a stock character – which were highly popular in the Netherlands at the time.

Key facts
Artist Gerrit Dou
Artist dates 1613 - 1675
Full title Portrait of a Man
Date made 1635-40
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 18.9 x 14.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1844
Inventory number NG192
Location in Gallery Not on display
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