Private collection, United Kingdom
Frans Pourbus the Elder began his career as a pupil of his father, Peeter Pourbus in Bruges. From 1562 he was to work in the studio of Frans Floris. It appears that he seduced Susanna Floris, the niece of his master, before leaving for an extended voyage to Italy. In 1569 he married Susanna, having already produced a child, the future Frans Pourbus the Younger. In the same year he was elected a member of the Guild in Antwerp, but kept his citizenship of Bruges.
The strict technique exercised in his work was inherited from his father. This, combined with a certain mannerist fluidity, acquired from his master Floris, as well as from his studies in Italy, enabled him to create some remarkable work. An excellent example of this is the triptych of 'Jesus amongst the Doctors' in the Cathedral of Saint Bavon in Ghent, as well as the 'Raising of Lazarus' and 'the Judgement of Solomon', both in the Cathedral in Tournai. Frans Pourbus' reputation as a portrait painter grew rapidly and today one can see some of his finest examples in the Wallace Collection, London. His excellent 'Portrait of a Gentleman' of 1574 and 'Portrait of a Man drinking' of 1575 are found in the Landesmuseum, Brunswick. At around this time, he founded a studio of his own. His pupils included his son Frans the Younger, Gortzius Geldorp, Gabrielus da Bresson and Pieter Codde.
The present portrait is of a gentleman, traditionally identified as Lamoraal, Count of Egmont. Resplendent with his linen ruff and white and green silk sleeved doublet, full moutashe and noble air, this work is, significantly, both signed and dated.
Notworthty also is the fact that the artist’s thumbprints appear to be in the paint at the top of the panel, presumably imprinted when the paint was still wet.