Selfportrait Frans van Mieris


Portrait of Frans van Meiris; half-length in a rectangular frame, almost in profile to left with left hand on hip, head turned to face the viewer, with shoulder-length, loose hair and curled moustache, swathed in a rich cloak, view of a city in the background after a self-portrait. Mezzotint by William Baillie published in 1777. The image is 23 x 18 cm (excluding text) the sheet is 52 x 35 cm. The print is in good condition with some foxing in the margins.

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Frans van Mieris (I), in full Frans Jansz. van Mieris, also called Frans van Mieris the Elder (Leiden, April 16, 1635 – there, March 12, 1681), was a Northern Netherlandish painter. Van Mieris was born into a family of goldsmiths and painters. The most important teacher of Van Mieris, next to Jacob and Abraham Toorenvliet, was Gerrit Dou. Together with him and with Gabriel Metsu, among others, Van Mieris is counted among the Dutch fine painters, who wanted to depict reality as accurately as possible. His technique is exquisite; its color range warm and deep; in the depiction of fabrics he is unsurpassable. Van Mieris painted in small format (30 to 38 cm). Van Mieris painted self-portraits, scenes from the life of the upper classes, but also painted a picture of daily events in the life of the people. His work was very well paid from the start and for a long time after his death it remained one of the most coveted art ever made in the Netherlands. However, Van Mieris lost much of his wealth to drink and mismanagement of his finances. He was good friends with Jan Steen. Van Mieris was already known outside the Netherlands during his lifetime. His patrons included the Leiden professor Franciscus de le Boë Sylvius, Emperor Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire and Cosimo III de’ Medici, who visited him in 1668 or 1669. Van Mieris was married in 1657 in Leiden to Cunera van der Cock. His sons Jan and Willem van Mieris and the latter’s son, Frans, were talented painters, but they never reached the level and success of their (grand)father. Frans van Mieris was buried in the Pieterskerk in Leiden. Adriaen van der Werff was his most important follower.


William Baillie (1723–1810) often known as “Captain William Baillie” was an Irish printmaker. Baillie was born at Kilbride, County Carlow, on 5 June 1723. He was educated at Dr. Sheridan’s school in Dublin, and at about the age of eighteen his father sent him to London to study law. However he decided to follow the example of a younger brother and join the army. After some opposition from his father, he was allowed to accept of a commission offered to him by Lord Archibald Hamilton, in the 13th Regiment of Foot. He joined the regiment as the senior ensign before the battle of Lafeldt, where he carried the colours. He served with this regiment for many years, and was at the battle of Culloden, and at several engagements in Germany. He then became an officer in the 51st Regiment and was with them as captain of the grenadiers and paymaster at the battle of Minden. He then spent some time in the 17th Light Dragoons before selling his commission. He made his first etchings while still in the army. The earliest dated ones, from 1753, depict soldiers, one a named member of his regiment. He was largely self-taught as an artist, though he had some lessons from his fellow Irishman, Nathaniel Hone. After leaving the army in 1761, Baillie devoted his life to the arts, although from 1773–95 he also held the post of Commissioner of Stamps. He made prints in various styles, first exhibiting his work with the Society of Artists in 1762, but his most notable productions were those in the style of, or directly copied from, the etchings of Rembrandt. To imitate Rembrandt’s effects of chiaoscuro, he used mezzotint, a technique not employed by the Dutch artist. He also obtained the badly worn original plate of Rembrandt’s “Hundred Guilder Print” and reworked it. When a limited number of impressions had been made, the plate was cut into four pieces, and impressions taken from the individual sections.  His main business however was as a picture dealer, acting as agent for the Earl of Bute and Lord Liverpool among others. His works were published in two folio volumes by John Boydell, in 1792,under the title of A Series of 225 Prints and Etchings after Rembrandt, Teniers, G. Dou, Poussin, and others. He died at Paddington, London, on 22 December 1810.