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Old Man reading by Candlelight
Schalcken, Godfried
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Schalcken, Godfried

Made, 1643 - The Hague, 1706

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Old Man reading by Candlelight

1700 - 1706. Oil on canvas Not on display

The half-length figure of an old man is depicted against a dark background. He looks at the viewer out of the corner of his eye, with his torso turned slightly to the left and his head to the right, as he holds a candle in his right hand to light up a manuscript in his left, of which we can only see the back. Old Man reading by Candlelight is clearly a night scene, a genre in which Schalcken specialised from the outset. It draws on the compositions with one or more characters shown reading, writing or studying by candle - or lamplight first produced by Gerrit Dou (1613-1675) in Leiden, with a view to studying the reflection of artificial light on different kinds of surfaces.

As in his portraits, Schalcken here seems to focus on the flame reflected in the pupil of the old man. In this respect, the composition is very close, for instance, to Portrait of King William III, dated 1669 (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), although, to judge from the technical and stylistic execution, the Prado painting is from a later date. Indeed, the pictorial treatment would suggest that Old Man reading by Candlelight dates from the artist`s final phase, when, perhaps influenced by Caspar Netscher (1639-1684) or Frans van Mieris (1635-1681), he substituted the intricate and complex technique employed by his master, Gerrit Dou, for a freer, more flowing style with greater subtlety of light contrast.

Although it is difficult to identify the character, the model is the same one used in Saint Peter, a picture with considerable similarities to this in terms of technique, composition, colour and lighting. Behermann dates both pictures between 1700 and 1706 and suggests that they may have been part of the same series, perhaps an Apostolate (Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, pp. 128-129).

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Technical data

Inventory number
P002135
Author
Schalcken, Godfried
Title
Old Man reading by Candlelight
Date
1700 - 1706
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 58 cm.; Width: 47 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Palacio de Aranjuez, Madrid, quinta pieza del cuarto del príncipe, 1818, nº 264).

Bibliography +

Hofstede de Groot, C. (Cornelis) (1863-1930), A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent dutch..., V, Macmillan and Co, Londres, 1913, pp. nº171.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Pintura Holandesa del siglo XVII en españa, Universidad, Valladolid, 1973, pp. 362.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 624.

Beherman, T., Godfried Schalcken, Maeght Editeur, París, 1988, pp. nº26.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, I, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 128-129.

Other inventories +

Inv. Fernando VII, Aranjuez, 1814-1818. Núm. 264.
QUARTO DEL PRINCIPE [...] Quinta Pieza [...] {21041} 264 / 2 tercias alto I y media ancho retrato de un filosofo leyendo un papel con una vela en la mano = [a lápiz=] Schalken

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 2867.
2867 Otro id. con una luz, de Schaleken / Alto 1 pie, 10 pulg; ancho 1 pie, 6 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 1659.
1659.-(>>-R.)-Un hombre leyendo un papel á la luz / de una vela.-Busto con manos, de tamaño natural. / Col. de Carlos II (?). Procede del Pal. de Aranjuez. / Alto 0,58; ancho 0,47.-L.

Exhibitions +

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
15.10.2015 - 16.01.2016

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Cádiz
12.06.2015 - 20.09.2015

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Zaragoza
04.02.2015 - 17.05.2015

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Tarragona
17.09.2014 - 04.01.2015

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Lérida
14.02.2014 - 20.07.2014

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Gerona
23.10.2013 - 19.01.2014

Dutch Painters at the Prado
Madrid
03.12.2009 - 11.04.2010

Displayed objects +

Candle: Vela

Update date: 16-01-2020 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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