MASTER of Flémalle
(b. ca. 1375, Valenciennes, d. 1444, Tournai)
Portrait of a Man1400-10
Wood, 40,7 x 28 cm
National Gallery, London
The companion piece of a panel representing a woman, also in the National Gallery in London.
It is instructive to compare this portrait with that by the Jan van Eyck of a man wearing a similar red turban. Here, the scarf ends hang down, serving to frame a face in which we read force of character and upon which we can project an inner emotional life. Van Eyck's personage gives much less away. A greater area of the picture is taken up by his red hat than by his face, its three-dimensional bulk is more assertive, it folds and tucks more dramatic. Perhaps the hat was studied at greater length, perhaps on a stand, independently of the sitter and, like a studio still-life, arranged by the painter, knotted and tweaked to present its most picturesque aspect.