Oil on panel
6 x 4 1/2 inches (15 x 12 cm)
Private collection, UK
Otto Naumann. Frans van Mieris (1635-1681) The Elder. Vol. II. Davaco. p. 137, B 26, fig. CB 26 (Frans van Mieris the Elder).
Hans-Joachim Raupp. Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnis und Künstlerdarstellun in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert. Hildesheim, Zurich, and New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1984. p. 222 and p. 445, fig. 125 (Carl de Moor).
Karl de Moore is considered one of the most influential and prominent Dutch portrait painters of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. He studied in Leiden with Gerard Dou, Frans van Mieres, Godfried Schalcken, and Abraham van de Tempel. De Moore joined the Leiden Guild of Saint Luke in 1683, and held numerous administrative posts throughout his membership. He founded the Ledise Tekenacademie with fellow artists Willem van Mieres and Jacob van Toorenvliet in 1694, and occupied the position of director until 1736.
In his early career, de Moore painted genre and narrative pictures as well as portraits. He increasingly devoted more of his output to portraiture throughout his career, despite the success of his genre and narrative paintings. He was commissioned to paint an overmantle for the Stadhuis by the city governors of Leiden, and painted portraits of the Burgomasters and Echevins in 1719 for the Magistrate’s Hall at The Hague. He was knighted in 1714 by Emperor Charles VI, and for him painted portraits of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene. The Duke of Tuscany later sat for a portrait, as well as Peter the Great of Russia.
To create a glowing effect in his pictures, de Moore successfully blended a palette of luminous color with vigorous, confident brushstrokes to produce a highly finished surface. The influence of his masters, particularly Schalcken and van den Tempel, can be seen in his treatment of portraiture.
In our painting, Karl de Moore portrays an artist at an easel, his vocation identified by the paintbrushes and palette he holds. Perhaps de Moore himself, the figure is dressed in richly textured velvet and leather. He casually rests his arm on the smooth stone ledge behind him, creating a graceful line that organizes the picture space, dividing foreground and background. Our eye follows the figure’s arm up to his face, which is turned toward the viewer and exhibits a shy smile. The picture he paints, the painting within our painting, is a landscape, so true to the soft, delicate language of de Moore’s painting that it almost serves as a believable background. This landscape contributes to the illusion of depth and a window into the vision of the artist. Thus, our painting becomes a comment on the role of the artist as transformer of the everyday world, just as the artist in the painting transforms his surroundings , creating new translations of the world with his paintbrushes.