Hanneman, elegant portraitist of the Golden Age
Famous for his portraits of English and Dutch nobility, the artist gradually faded into oblivion until a few years ago. This painting joins his body of works.
This young, nameless model elegantly wears a black hat with red, black and white feathers and red ribbons and an apron made of fine cloth. He is holding a bird that could be a chicken or a pigeon with caramel-coloured plumage. His frock, made of a fabric dotted with pink flowers, falls in heavy folds. Blond curls surround his face, which is turned towards a person outside the frame. He has a serious look, brightened up by the slightest hint of a smile. How could anyone resist! Hanneman pulled out all the stops in this portrait, from the harmonious palette to the transparent glaze, to attract our eyes and win over our hearts. At the height of his powers, in the 1650s he moved back to The Hague after having spent around 10 years in London, where he worked with Anton Van Dyck, whose style deeply influenced him. The painter acquired a reputation as a portraitist with the royal family and English nobility. He met some of them again after they fled to The Hague in the entourage of Mary Stuart, daughter of Charles I and wife of William of Orange, stathouder of the United Provinces. Hanneman was asked to lead the Guild of Saint Luke and became the first head of the Pictura Confraternity founded by dissident artists in 1656. One of the rules in their charter required its members to permanently display their works in the meeting room. The following decade was darkened by wars with England, France and several German princes, culminating in the Rampjaar, the year of the disaster. Patrician families were in no mood to have their portraits painted. Deprived of income, Hanneman was forced to sell off some of his property more than once. He died in 1671, leaving his prints and drawings to his student, Simon du Parcq. His reputation as a great portraitist has grown since the second half of the last century. This elegant painting shows why.