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Young Man with a Rosary, 1500-1550

Adriaen Isenbrandt

Flemish, c.1490-1551
Oil on canvas, transferred to panel
16-3/4 x 12-1/2 in. (42.5 x 31.8 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

One of the more enigmatic Bruges painters from the generation after Gerard David and Hans Memling, Adriaen Isenbrandt produced a body of work that has been difficult to classify with assurance. None of his works are documented or signed and, given his tendency to borrow motifs and compositions directly from other artists such as David, Memling, and Ambrosius Benson, precise attributions must remain tentative. Isenbrandt’s strongest debt is to Gerard David, who was said to have been his teacher. However, although the depictions of Isenbrandt's sitters are naturalistic and lifelike, he never achieved the potency, realism and individuality of his more senior colleagues in Bruges.

The condition of this portrait has suffered owing to several transfers: from panel to canvas, then back to panel. However the composition still remains highly representative of the panels that were being turned out by Isenbrandt’s very successful workshop: small-scale, stereotypical, wistful portraits and devotional images imbued with warm, rich colors. This particular painting may have formed the right side of a diptych or triptych, with the portrait of a donor, rosary in hand, posed as supplicant to a Madonna of the Rosary.

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