This early work, depicting a gentleman holding a crossbow winder, was produced in the Low Countries in the first quarter of the 17th century. The man is dressed in black, the colour of choice in the Low Countries during this period. To the modern eye, his clothing appears to be relatively sombre, but on closer inspection, it is apparent that the artist has conveyed the elevated status of his sitter through
bringing out the differing textures of the material that make up his costume.
The Gentleman’s golden jewel-covered belt is particularly well painted and indicates that the sitter was the holder of some form of civic position, perhaps linked to the crossbow, which is referred to both in the coat of arms in the top right hand side of the portrait, and the crossbow winder in his hand. The crossbow was a popular weapon of choice on the continent and it is possible that the sitter served as a
prominent member of one of the many crossbow guilds in towns across the Low Countries, as an officer in a civic militia.
Continental School, Early 17th Century
Portrait of a Gentleman with a Crossbow Winder
Oil on panel
Inscribed ‘AETATIS SUAE 32’
Image size: 35¼ x 26¾ inches