MICHIEL VAN MUSSCHER (Rotterdam 1645 – 1705 Amsterdam)

Michiel van Musscher

Michiel van Musscher (Rotterdam 1645 – 1705 Amsterdam)

Portrait of a gentleman in ‘Japonsche rock’

Oil on canvas, 57.5 x 48 cm (22.6 x 18.9 inch); presented in a carved and gilt frame of 18th-century model

The Lady Manfield, Moulton Grange, Pitsford, Northamptonshire, England, until 2019


According to Houbraken, Van Musscher showed a talent for drawing at a young age, and had many teachers, of which he kept a record.1 His first teacher was Martinus Saeghmolen in 1660 for two months, and in 1661, he took lessons from Abraham van den Tempel. In 1665 he took seven lessons with Gabriel Metsu, and in 1667 he spent three months in Haarlem to take lessons with Adriaen van Ostade. Though his entire education spanned several years, Houbraken was astonished that he became so skilled with so few hours of professional study, and concludes that he must have had a great natural talent that he practiced extensively on his own.

Houbraken wrote that he moved to Amsterdam to work for Jonas Witsen, a wealthy artlover who introduced him to all of his friends as a portrait painter. He married twice, first to Eva Visscher in 1678 in Buiksloot (Amsterdam), and the second time in 1693 to the widow Elise Klanes. His pupils were Ottmar Elliger the Younger and Dirk Valkenburg.

Michiel van Musscher was one of the leading portraitists in Amsterdam in the last decade of the seventeenth century, and was patronised by families such as the Van Loons, in whose house several of his portraits can still be found. Van Musscher excelled in the depiction of details of fabric and surfaces, such as the carefully painted Turkish carpets that can frequently be seen in his works, including the present painting. Works by Van Musscher are preserved in many of the world’s leading museums, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

We are grateful to Dr Robert Gerhardt, who confirmed the authenticity of this painting in an email of 12th April 2020. Dr Gerhardt compared this work to a portrait of a gentleman with a fountain in the background by Van Musscher, dated 1698 (fig.).2

Another fine, available work by Van Musscher can be found here. Works by Van Musscher can be found in the world's most important collections, for example the Rijksmuseum and The Leiden Collection, New York.



1. For the artist, see R. Gerhardt, Michiel van Musscher (1645-1705) : the wealth of the Golden Age, exh. cat. Amsterdam (Museum Van Loon) 2012, passim.
2. Oil on canvas, 48.9 x 40.8 cm, formerly Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, 11 November 1997, no. 7, repr.