Datable ca. 1618-29
Oil on canvas
The painting is not intended as a portrait but, no doubt, Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp did paint a real person, and it cannot be ruled out that the painter’s model actually was a carpenter. We can only speculate as to what inspired Cuyp to paint this “tronie”, which is the period and correct term for genre-like representations of real people of this kind.
Apart from Joseph, the most famous carpenter in history who is as a rule depicted accompanying Mary and the Christ Child, the subject of a carpenter never took off in Dutch painting. This is surprising given the huge numbers of people earning a living in the wood industry in the Netherlands.
In the background we see men sawing beams of wood. It could be a shipyard, but the artist apparently did not feel the need to specify the kind of wood-yard. Ironically, all Cuyp’s paintings of this and similar sizes are on wooden panel, but the present painting is on canvas, which is highly unusual for the artist. Cuyp portrays the carpenter in a romanticized guise, in a painterly beret and with a cloak elegantly draped over his one shoulder.
Signed upper right: “JGK[in ligature]uyp”
Size: 72.7 x 63.6 cm
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