Portrait of a gentleman, half length, wearing a black costume and hat, holding a glove and a ring.
Ambrosius Benson (1505-1550)

Portrait of a gentleman, half length, wearing a black costume and hat, holding a glove and a ring., ca 1540.

Oil on panel, H. 0.43 m; W. 0.31 m

Provenance: Sale Clendenin J. Ryan; Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, Jan. 1, 9-20, 1940, lot 220, $1,000 (sold with a certificate from Max J. Friedlander dated Berlin Nov 3, 1928).

Literature:

Georges Marlier, Ambrosius Benson et la peinture à Bruges au temps de Charles Quint, Damme, 1957, p. 258 and 320, no. 143, pl. LXXI.

Little is known about Ambrosius Benson. He was a Lombard, possibly a native of Milan, who became a master in Bruges in 1519. His oeuvre is largely conjectural, and is based on comparison with a panel of the Holy Family, formerly in the Germanisches Museum, Nuremberg, and a Triptych with St Anthony of Padua in the Musées Royaux, Brussels, both of which are monogrammed with the initials AB.

Benson produced altarpieces, often for the Spanish market, private devotional pictures, half-length female saints and mythological figures, as well as concert scenes. His work is ostensibly distinguishable from that of his Bruges contemporaries, such as Adriaen Ysenbrant (active, 1510-51), owing to reputed traces of Italian influence. However, as early as 1910, Mr. Friedländer noted that the most remarkable and innovative part of Benson’s activity was in the field of portraiture, proof being that, in the past, many of his likenesses were attributed to Holbein the Younger, Gossaert, Jan van Scorel, Cranach, or the Venetian Masters.