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Closterman (anglicised from ‘Kloosterman’) was born in Germany and is thought to have arrived in England in 1681, following the death of court painter Sir Peter Lely.

We are grateful to Jacqui Ansell, Senior Lecturer Christie’s Education, for her commentary on men’s fashion which has been incorporated into this catalogue note.

This portrait, painted by John Closterman, visually articulates the development of the modern three-piece suit of jacket, waistcoat and breeches. The sitter’s gleaming pale blue jacket is fitted to the waist and falls out into full folds, allowing freedom of movement. The large, loose sleeves reveal the full sleeves of the shirt, which billow from the tight cuffs. The left sleeve of the sitter’s gold brocaded waistcoat peeks through the large cuffs of his jacket – an example of a waistcoat with sleeves, before they were later jettisoned in the middle of the eighteenth century. The waistcoat is lined with a luxurious light blue fabric and the jacket’s lining matches the waistcoat’s gold brocade fabric of a fleshy foliate pattern.

The full linen cravat emulates the fashionable shape known as a ‘Steinkirk’ whereby the...


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We are grateful to Jacqui Ansell, Senior Lecturer Christie’s Education, for her commentary on men’s fashion which has been incorporated into this catalogue note.

This portrait, painted by John Closterman, visually articulates the development of the modern three-piece suit of jacket, waistcoat and breeches. The sitter’s gleaming pale blue jacket is fitted to the waist and falls out into full folds, allowing freedom of movement. The large, loose sleeves reveal the full sleeves of the shirt, which billow from the tight cuffs. The left sleeve of the sitter’s gold brocaded waistcoat peeks through the large cuffs of his jacket – an example of a waistcoat with sleeves, before they were later jettisoned in the middle of the eighteenth century. The waistcoat is lined with a luxurious light blue fabric and the jacket’s lining matches the waistcoat’s gold brocade fabric of a fleshy foliate pattern.

The full linen cravat emulates the fashionable shape known as a ‘Steinkirk’ whereby the two ends are twisted together, and one end is tucked through the buttonhole to secure. This style of cravat was fashionable among both men and women at the end of the seventeenth century and throughout the early eighteenth century. The loose folds of material which comprise the cravat are echoed in the excess of fabric throughout the costume, particularly in the cuffs of the shirt and jacket. It may come as no surprise that the artist, Closterman, was employed as a drapery painter during his early career in England. Captured in rich brushstrokes, the luxurious folds of fabric throughout the cravat are executed with an expert eye.

Framing the cravat, the sitter’s curls cascade down in thick ringlets. However, there is no doubt at all that this young man’s fine head of hair is not his own. Throughout most of the eighteenth century, wig wearing signified gentility, however specific styles and fashions were ever-changing, and each decade brought with it a new look. During the first decade of the eighteenth century, when this portrait was painted, wigs were truly the height of fashion – symbolically and literally – as it was during this time that wigs reached their maximum height. The pentimenti around the sitter’s head here is suggestive of the artist’s reworking of the exact outline at the crown. The two tall peaks at the top of the head are separated by a pronounced central parting, a style which was particularly popular at this date.

This composition, with the subject standing in an open landscape holding a flintlock shotgun was favoured by the Closterman. Closterman executed this painting towards the end of his life, during which time he was maintaining a successful portrait painting practice and employed at least one assistant. Although he was in competition with great painters like Sir Godfrey Kneller and Jonathan Richardson, he seems to have maintained an illustrious lifestyle until his death in 1711.

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500 Years of British Art