Jan van Eyck 1390 – 1441

Portrait of a Man (Timothy)

oil on panel (33 × 19 cm) — 1432 Museum National Gallery, London

Jan van Eyck biography

This work is linked to 1 Timothy 1:2

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Experts are not sure about the identity of the depicted man. Many say it is Timothy of Miletus, a musician from Antiquity. But it may also be the Timothy to whom Paul addressed two letters. That would explain the scroll of paper.

The balustrade is a fine demonstration of trompe l'oeil: it looks as if Timothy is sitting behind a real parapet, but in reality it is just a piece of fine painting.

The parapet shows three lines of text. The first reads, in Greek, ΤΥΜ.ωΘΕΟς. That could mean Timothy as well as the Latin words tum otheos, Then God.
"LEAL SOUVENIR" means loyal remembrance. The bottom line reads "Actu[m] an[n]o d[omi]ni. 1432. 10. die octobris. a. ioh[anne] de Eyck": made on October 10, 1432, by Jan van Eyck.

At first glance the seems somewhat flat. Closer inspection shows many realistic details - a large chin, lines on the forehead, wrinkles around the eyes.

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