EYCK, Jan van
(b. before 1395, Maaseik, d. before 1441, Bruges)

Portrait of a Young Man (Tymotheos)

1432
Oil on wood, 34,5 x 19 cm
National Gallery, London

The portrait is a three-quarters view of a man of about thirty years, turned slightly to the left before an homogeneously dark background. He sports a fashionable green head-dress from which a scarf hangs down onto his right shoulder. He is also wearing a red coat with a thin fur collar. His left arm is folded behind the parapet, his left hand obscured by his right, which is holding a scroll of paper.

The identity of the sitter has been the subject of considerable speculation. It would seem logical to expect the strange name which someone appears to have lettered onto the stone in Greek (Tymotheos) to provide a clue. In fact, the name did not occur in the Netherlands before the Reformation which led experts to see it as a scholarly humanist metonym to link the sitter with an eminent figure in Classical antiquity.

An inscription, not unlike an epitaph, and yet evidently referring to a living person, is chiselled on the parapet: LEAL SOUVENIR (loyal remembrance).