Unknown artist

Portrait of a Franciscan (Capuchin Monk or Friar Minor) in a library

Portrait of a Franciscan (Capuchin Monk or Friar Minor) in a library by Unknown artist

Artwork Detail

The subject of this monumental portrait wears a brown habit, a clue that he is a Capuchin friar from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, a religious order of Franciscan friars within the Catholic Church. The brown of his hooded habit symbolises the austere humility of the order, and the rope around the waist would traditionally be knotted to symbolise the wearer’s vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Shown standing in a library, his finger points to the text on an open book. Nearby is a bookcase with large, leatherbound books of natural history, politics, theology and philosophy. The names of the authors are legible on their undersides: Seneca, [John] Scotus [Eriugena], Aldrovandus, Tacitus and Mastrius.

Seventeenth century western Europe was marked by a resurgence of monasticism. Franciscan, Capuchin, Norbertine and Jesuit orders in Antwerp and its environs offered artists a steady stream of portrait commissions for distinguished clerics, and many Flemish artists completed commissions, including Peter Paul Rubens. Originally attributed to Gaspard de Crayer (Antwerp 1584–1669), Rubens scholar Dr Arnout Balis proposed the work to be by Pieter Thijs (1624–1677), a leading Antwerp court painter.

Portrait of a Franciscan (Capuchin Monk or Friar Minor) in a library
Unknown artist
Production date
circa 1670
1210 x 970 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Cécile Kruyfhooft, Belgium, 2023
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
On display

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