Enoch Seeman (1690-1744)
Seeman looks over his shoulder with a confident swagger aimed to exemplify his precocious capabilities as an artist...
Enoch Seeman was one of the most prominent and successful portrait painters working in England the early eighteenth century, and his self-portraits (or indeed the earlier part of his oeuvre generally), are among the most inventive and technically brilliant of his career.
Seeman looks over his shoulder with a confident swagger aimed to exemplify his precocious capabilities as an artist. This bust-length portrait has a heightened sense of dramatic flair achieved by the artist’s competent handling on tonal contrasts. The way in which Seeman has emphasized his facial features above all else is routed in the tradition of tenebrism as developed by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) and Dutch Golden Age painter Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656) the later of whom explored innovative means of painting scenes illuminated by a single artificial light source such as a flickering candle, something which Seeman explores in his Self-Portrait with the artist’s Younger Brother Isaac.
Enoch Seeman (The Younger) was born in Danzig, (present day Gdańsk) in Poland in the last stages of the seventeenth century. Born into a family of prestigious painters, the young Enoch was brought to London from Flanders by his father in 1708 to gain commissions as an artist. His early work exhibits a clear interest in the stylistic tendencies of Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723) and comparisons can be drawn between the present portrait and Kneller’s Self-Portrait of 1685 presently in the National Portrait Gallery Collection [NPG 3794]. Although Seeman takes more artistic liberties in his handling of paint, it is clear that this is an artist confident in their own ability to manipulate the medium to produce a work of penetrating sincerity and creative verve.