Portrait of a Knight of the Golden Fleece, c. 1520-1530
Unknown (Flemish - 16th century)
oil on oak
44 x 36.5 cm; frame: 88.2 x 80.8 x 11.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3182)
In this portrait, the composition of which is typical of the period, the sitter fills the shallow space, his body truncated by the frame to focus our attention. The close description encourages us to look carefully: he turns away from us, allowing us to observe him without having to engage with his return gaze. He holds a rosary and is engaged in silent prayer as he "tells" the beads - his disengagement motivated by piety. The noble sitter wears the collar of the Golden Fleece, a prestigious knightly Order. The unknown painter was influenced by the work of Jan Gossart (c. 1478-1532), among the most original and talented Netherlandish artists of the 16th century.