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Still life of fruit and a pie on a table

The Royal Collection has a stunning collection of seventeenth century Dutch art

Gabriel Metsu (Leiden 1629-Amsterdam 1667)

A Self-Portrait standing at a window c.1655-8

RCIN 405943

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Here the artist depicts himself within a stone window frame, a device he learned from his teacher, Gerrit Dou. Metsu presents himself as an intellectual painter in the mainstream Italianate tradition, rather than as a Dutch craftsman. He is richly dressed to suggest that painting is a 'Liberal Art' appropriate for gentlemen. That he holds a piece of chalk rather than a brush refers to disegno, or invention – the intellectual element of painting. He is surrounded by works of art with elevated subjects: a sculpted head of a classical figure and a print after Gerard Seghers's Christ at the Column. These are works which inform Metsu's own art. They are Flemish and somewhat in the style of Sir Peter Paul Rubens - the most ambitious and Italianate artist from the Low Countries during the seventeenth century.