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Gabriel Metsu (Leiden 1629-Amsterdam 1667)

A Self-Portrait c.1655-8

Oil on panel | 37.7 x 31.4 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405943

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Metsu shows himself with the tools of his trade - a piece of white chalk, various brushes, a mahlstick, a drawing board and a shell for mixing pigments. An easel is just visible in the darkness beyond the illusionistic stone archway. Yet this is more of an artistic manifesto than a literal representation of an artist at work. The bust and print, both by Netherlandish artists, attest to the artist's scholarship and national pride, while his clothes (a red silk doublet with gold braid and a linen shirt with billowing sleeves) are luxurious and expensive – and notably impractical for painting.