Jacob Ochtervelt, 'Portrait of a man'

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The Netherlands
C. 1650-1680
Oil on panel
11.7 cm
8.7 cm

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The young man looking naughty while making a gesture with his right hand. This gesture originally stood for female fertility, but from the Middle Ages on it is also used as an obscene gesture for the sexual act.

Jacob Lucasz. Ochtervelt was a Dutch Golden Age genre painter whose contemporaries included Vermeer, Ter Borch, and De Hooch. Despite his prolific work, he was ignored by the three major 17th century art bibliographers, Andre Felibien, Jochaim Sandrart, and R. de Piles. He was first mentioned by Arnold Houbraken, a biographer of Dutch Golden Age painters, who wrote that "Jakob Ugtervelt was a pupil of N. Berchem during the same period as "Pieter de Hooge" (Hooch), who was famed for his interior conversation pieces with lords and ladies, but without much perspective in his backgrounds, which takes a certain amount of mathematical insight and skill." The way this comment was written leaves the reader questioning whether Houbraken thought Hooch or Ochtervelt painted perspective poorly. According to Abraham Jacob van der Aa's later biography of him, his style was more in keeping with Gerard Terburg or Gabriel Metzu, and in addition to sharing Berchem's studio with Hooch, he had been a pupil of Frans van Mieris the Elder.

Ochtervelt first worked in Haarlem until he married Dirkje Meesters in Rotterdam in 1655. From 1655 to 1672 he worked in Rotterdam, from 1674 until his death in 1682 he worked in Amsterdam. He was buried there in the Nieuwezijds Chapel. Ochtervelt was a student of Nicolaes Berchem and Ludolf de Jongh. He has made genre pieces, history pieces and portraits.


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