A wonderfully assured Portrait of a Gentleman by the Dutch Golden Age artist Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck is one of the leading lots at Bonhams
Old Master Paintings sale in London on Wednesday 9 December. It is estimated at £120,000-180,000.
Verspronck (1660-1662) was born in Haarlem and trained as a portrait painter under his father although it seems highly likely that he may also have been a pupil of Frans Hals. The informal poses and natural expressions so characteristic of Halss style are certainly evident in Versproncks work too.
In 1632 he joined the Haarlem Guild of Saint Luke (the patron saint of artists) and his career began to flourish. From the limited number of his sitters who have been identified it is clear that Versproncks clientele was largely locally based. His major commission came in 1642 when he beat Hals in a competition to paint the group portrait, The Regentesses of the Heilige Geesthuis, one of Haarlems wealthiest charities.
Portrait of a Gentleman was probably painted around 1645 and shows Verspronck at the height of his powers demonstrating the mastery of detail for which his work was particularly prized. Bonhams Director of Old Masters, Andrew McKenzie, said, Although Verspronck borrowed the pose of his figures from Hals, the composition was entirely his own. He often positioned the sitters to the left or right side of the canvas in order to give free rein to the play of light in the background. The subtle effects he achieved and the precision of his brush work have made his works critically admired and increasingly sought after by collectors."