Czy „Portret młodzieńca” w zbiorach wawelskich jest obrazem Jana Lievensa?
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In 1910, Cracow art historian Professor Jerzy Mycielski bought Portrait of a young man, believing it to be a work by Dutch painter Jan Lievens, at an auction in Amsterdam. After Mycielski’s death in 1929, following his last will, the portrait along with his entire collection was bequeathed to the Wawel Royal Castle. In an article published in 1917 Hans Schneider saw the likeness of the painting to Rafael’s Portrait of a young man, which was then in the Duke Czartoryski collection. Attribution of the work to Lievens, who until recently was believed to be a student of Rembrandt, has never been questioned previously, although some researchers saw certain similarities between the painting and works by Juriaen Ovens or Govaert Flinck. The painting represents an “international” style of portrait, formed under the Flemish influence, in particular of Anton van Dyck’s portraits. Thus it should be assumed that the work of van Dyck was an important inspiration and point of reference for the artist who painted the portrait, who might have seen Rafael’s Portrait – the original, its copy or a graphic version. All the more so as van Dyck himself was familiar with Rafael’s work – he saw it during his journey to Italy in 1623 and made a copy in the form of drawing in his sketchbook. Other than a close a likeness to Rafael’s original and van Dyck’s works, the stylistic analysis of the Wawel Portrait does not enable pinpointing who painted it. Examination using technological means appears to be necessary, considering the fact that Lievens’ paintings were rather carefully examined in view of the recent monographic exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington and the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam. The fact that the Wawel painting was included in Lievens’ works displayed at that exhibition seems to suggest that the ideas of those researchers who saw it as a work by Flinck or Ovens should be revisited. Flinck’s portraits based on Flemish models are only of marginal importance and they certainly do have some common features. They do not show any traces of fascination with van Dyck’s painting; neither are there any cues to suggest that he knew Rafael’s Portrait. On the other hand, Juriaen Ovens, who probably visited Italy, could have seen Rafael’s work. He might have come across a copy of it as a collector or as an antiquarian – since he not only had a large collection of paintings but also traded in antiquities. His fascination with van Dyck’s painting and the fact that he was familiar with his oeuvre is confirmed by his numerous sketches of paintings by the Flemish master. The analysis of some details of the Wawel portrait – folds of the young man’s outfit or landscape in the background – also seem to support the assumption that it is his work.
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