circle of Gerrit von Honthorst, Unknown Man

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Unknown Man
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 75 cm, Overall width: 62 cm
circle of Gerrit von Honthorst (1592-1656)
Catalogue Number


This portrait of an unknown man has many similarities with Gerrit van Honthorst’s work, particularly Portrait of an Officer (1644, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, SK-A-176) and Portrait of the Prince Palatine Edward (c.1640, Louvre, Paris, INV 1369), especially in the sensitive handling of the features and the sitter’s somewhat grave disposition. The present portrait is framed as part of a set of members of the Horner family from the second half of the seventeenth century, which suggests that this may be a member of the Horner family, perhaps Edward (1616–1654) or Samuel (1619–1706), younger sons of Sir John Horner (1580–1659).

Gerrit van Honthorst is best known as a prominent member of the Utrecht Caravaggisti, a painter of genre and religious scenes with dramatic use of light and shade learned during his time in Rome c. 1610–20. He also developed a thriving and lucrative portrait practice, particularly in courtly circles, and was much patronised by the House of Orange-Nassau. Van Honthorst visited England in 1628 when he painted Charles I, Henrietta Maria and George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham among others, and he continued to receive commissions from English clients after his return to the United Provinces. From 1637 to 1652 van Honthorst lived in The Hague where he executed many high-profile commissions for portraits and large-scale decorative schemes. Honthorst established a large workshop and academy in Utrecht where his assistants and pupils included Jan Gerritsz. van Bronchorst, Robert van Voest, Gerard van Koijl and his brother Willem van Honthorst.

by Amy Lim

Related catalogue items from Mells Manor

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    A Young Woman, traditionally called Anne Poole, Lady Horner

    circle of Herman Verelst, c.1683–90

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    Portrait of a Man

    Godfrey Kneller, c.1690–5

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    Two wings of a tabernacle; right wing: SS John, Catherine and Dorothy

    possibly Scolaio di Giovanni or Alvaro Pirez or, Battista di Gerio