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Dutch Painting

Self Portrait

Ferdinand Bol
c. 1650–1655
Black chalk, gray wash160 x 132 cm.
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
Self Portrait, Ferdinand Bol

Ferdinand BOL
Dortrecht 1616–Amsterdam 1680

A prosperous surgeon's son, Ferdinand Bol first studied locally in his native Dortrecht, and then became Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn's pupil in Amsterdam, where he settled. Bol witnessed a document concerning Rembrandt's wife Saskia's inheritance in 1640, a responsibility that suggests that by then Bol was probably no longer a student but a full-fledged assistant.

After having risen quickly through the ranks in Rembrandt's highly productive studio, Bol established himself as an independent master around 1642. He imitated Rembrandt's style so closely that some works were mistaken for Rembrandt's for centuries afterward. Although his style changed, throughout his career Bol painted the same subjects as Rembrandt: histories, portraits—often with sitters posed by a window—and exotically costumed single figures.

Around 1650 Bol's taste drifted to more "modern" trends: His palette lightened, and his figures grew more noble and elegant. No other painter in Amsterdam equaled him in receiving official commissions; his 1653 marriage to a woman from an influential family undoubtedly helped. Among Bol's most important works were classicizing Baroque paintings of historical subjects for Amsterdam's new town hall. After marrying a wealthy widow in 1669, he gave up painting.


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