GHEERAERTS, Marcus the Younger
(b. 1561, Brugge, d. ca. 1636, London)

Portrait of Lady Anne Ruhout

Oil on canvas, 126 x 102 cm
Groeninge Museum, Bruges

Two Flemish court painters of Bruges descent who earned their reputation abroad, Frans Pourbus the Younger (1569-1622) and Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1562-1636), were active at the close of the sixteenth century and especially in the first quarter of the seventeenth. They are linear descendants of famous Bruges painter families. Their solid, old-fashioned technique and the rigid, immovable expression of their figures seem more like an extension of the sixteenth century than a herald of the seventeenth.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger left Bruges when he was seven, accompanying his father, the renowned Bruges painter and etcher who emigrated to England in 1568 because of his Protestant convictions. There the young Gheeraerts became a court painter. His art shows the schematic and rather insipid character of English official portraiture in the early part of the seventeenth century, even though he managed to refine it to a high degree.

The Portrait of Lady Anne Rushout, a late and very attractive work from 1631 - unsigned but very close to Gheeraerts' manner - shows how Gheeraerts used refined arrangements of posture, light and cloth textures to shape his fragile figures. Anne Rushout, the widow of John Rushout, was born into a noble family that was later endowed with the lordship of Northwick.