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Portrait of a Man

Pourbus, Frans the Younger (1569-1622), 1591, Oil on panel 49.5 x 37.5 cm.

The portrait is dated 1591 at the top left.  At the top right is an inscription in Latin which reads 'Atatis sue 32', which can be translated as meaning 'in the 32nd year of his life'. Frans Pourbus the Younger was born into a family of portrait painters - his grandfather, Pieter Pourbus,  and his father, Frans Pourbus the Elder, were both respected artists working in Bruges and Antwerp. The cool realism of this portrait, with its subtle use of directed light around the head and ruff, its carefully observed detail, and its psychological insight, is in sharp contrast to the hieratic style prevalent in England at this date. Frans the Younger is now  the most highly regarded of his family.  He became one of the principal court portrait painters in Europe, working first in Brussels for the Court of the Spanish Regents of the Netherlands, then in 1600 as court painter to Vicenzo I Gonzaga at his court in Mantua,  working also in Naples and Turin.  In 1609 he was summoned to Paris by Marie de Medici, to be painter at the French court, where he remained until his death. This picture was bought for the Leeds Art Gallery  with support from the LACF in 1914.  It was purchased from a Monsieur Neumann of Bellgium who had arrived in Leeds almost destitute as a refugee fleeing the advancing German armies.