Verdonck about 1627

On Display Scottish National Gallery

This portrait of a tousled-haired man with large moustache wielding a jawbone makes a startling impact. It also shows Hals's remarkable ability to convey appearance and character vividly. The subject is probably Pieter Verdonck, a prominent member of the most puritanical group of Mennonites in Haarlem, who was aggressive and argumentative. His verbal assaults were considered as strong as the blows that the Biblical character Samson struck with an ass’s jawbone; in fact, a contemporary engraving of the portrait included the inscription ‘Verdonck that outspoken fellow whose jawbone attacks all’. Verdonck was transformed in the nineteenth century with a beret and a wineglass, but these additions were removed in 1928.

Glossary Open

Engraving

The printmaking technique in which an image is inscribed on a copper plate with a tool that cuts a groove in the surface. This groove holds the ink that creates the print when it is applied to paper. Also refers to the method of making an incision on a material such as glass.

Inscription

Text written on a book, document or artwork. Examples include the added information such as edition number and date on a print, or a dedication written in a book.

Mennonites

A pacifist Protestant Christian denomination founded in the 16th century in the Netherlands. Mennonites are now mainly found in North America.

Engraving, Inscription, Mennonites

Details

  • Acc. No. NG 1200
  • Medium Oil on panel
  • Size 46.70 x 35.50 cm
  • Credit Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh (Presented by John J Moubray of Naemoor, 1916)