Cornelis de Man: Portrait of Dr. Ysbrand Ysbrandsz (1667)

(The Leiden Collection, New York, USA)

A painting made by the Dutch artist Cornelis de Man (1621-1706). Depicted is the pharmacist Dr. Ysbrand Ysbrandsz. (1635-1705) from Rotterdam. Ysbrand came from a prominent family who served as headman of Rotterdam’s Apothecary Guild, member of the Rotterdam’s City Council, burgomaster, captain of the civic guard of Rotterdam, master of the orphans, treasurer of Rotterdam etc. Ysbrand first election as the headman of Rotterdam’s Apothecary Guild in 1667 was probably the reason for this portrait. The small painting in the background contains the coat-of-arms of Ysbrand together with his personal motto: Circumspecte (“with caution” or “with meticulous care”). The items on the table form a vanitas still life (vanitas is Latin for 'emptiness', the worthless nature of all earthly goods and pursuits): the skull (a memento mori) reminds us viewers that life is short and should be ived to its fullest. The violin and the musical score (the page reads “All’Illustrissimo Signor Conte Nicolo Ponzoni,” identifying it as Tarquinio Merula’s Opus XVII) indicates that music and the liberal arts were important for Ysbrand's personal life. The globe represents the wide-ranging scholarly interests of Ysbrand but is also a reference to the wife of Ysbrand, Maria Blaeu, and her famous relatives the Dutch cartographers Willem Jansz. Blaeu (1571–1638) and Joan Blaeu (1596–1673). The long grey jacket which Ysbrand is wearing is a banyan which was called in the Netherlands a 'Japanese skirt' (Dutch: 'Japonsche rock'), inspired after the Japanese kimono's. Painting from 1667.

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