Portrait of a Man, Circle of Bernaert van Orley(1488 – Brussels – 1541), c. 1520

Portrait of a Man

Circle of Bernaert van Orley
(1488 – Brussels – 1541)

Portrait of a Man

Oil on panel
Inscribed verso:
'Holbein pinx.' ; 'Johan Morus / Holbein'
c. 1520


27.9 cm; 11 in.
22.9 cm; 9 in.


With Leo Blumenreich and Julius Böhler, Munich, 1924
Dr. Frederic Goldstein Oppenheimer (1881-1963) Collection, San Antonio, Texas
His gift to Abraham M. Adler, New York (until 1985)
Private collection, New York

Related literature

M. J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting (A. W. Sijthoff, Leyden, 1972), Vol. VIII

While old ink inscriptions on the verso of this panel (readng 'Holbein pinx.' ; 'Johan Morus / Holbein') propose its author to be Hans Holbein and the sitter Sir John More – a lawyer, judge, and the father of Sir Thomas More – this fine portrait has long been recognised as by a Flemish hand. As recorded in the archives of the RKD, The Hague, Max Friedländer gave the painting to Bernard van Orley in 1924, his attribution written on the verso of a photograph obtained from the Munich dealers Leo Blumenreich and Julius Böhler with whom the picture was at the time. Friedländer did not, however, include the work in the volume dedicated to the artist in his Early Netherlandish Paintings (op. cit.). In the light of more recent research on the artist, the attribution to the hand of van Orley cannot be supported, although it can be considered the work of a highly skilled unknown artist within his circle active aound 1520.  

Van Orley’s Portrait of the Physician Joris van Zelle, now in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, his only signed and dated portrait (1519), provides an interesting comparison with the present work, highlighting both the similarities (costume, hat, and pose) and the differences in style and composition. Closer to our portrait is his Portrait of a Man in the collection of the Uffizi in Florence (Inv. 1140) (see Friedländer, op. cit., pl. 122, no. 147, c. 1525) .

The present picture was formerly in the collection of Dr. Frederic Goldstein Oppenheimer(1881-1963), whose collection of predominantly Flemish Renaissance paintings is now in the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.