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Jan Lievens, Self Portrait

Key facts
Full title Self Portrait
Artist Jan Lievens
Artist dates 1607 - 1674
Date made early 1650s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 96.2 × 77 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Charles Fairfax Murray, 1912
Inventory number NG2864
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Self Portrait
Jan Lievens

There is a swagger, even an arrogance, in the bearing of this man who meets our eye so directly and seems so at ease with himself. This is a self portrait, and going by what his contemporaries said about the artist – Jan Lievens – we shouldn’t be surprised at his self-confident air. An English ambassador, Sir Robert Kerr, wrote a letter describing him: ‘he thinks there is none to be compared with him in all Germany, Holland, nor the rest of the 17 Provinces [of the Low Countries].’

Lievens' dress is that of a man of wealth and fashion, and the landscape behind suggests the formal grounds of a country estate. The aristocracy were among his most important customers: he was demonstrating that he could paint them in a suitable style. But the confidence of his pose suggests that he may have considered himself their social equal too.

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