The J. Paul Getty Museum

Double Portrait

Object Details


Double Portrait


Michael Sweerts (Flemish, 1618 - 1664)




about 1660–1662


Oil on panel

Object Number:



21.7 × 17.8 cm (8 9/16 × 7 in.)

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Object Description

Two European men in Middle Eastern dress pose in front of a parapet. The bearded man on the left gestures to the right, while the other man looks in the same direction and holds a cryptic message in Italian:  Sig:r mio videte la strade di sa lute per la mano di sweerts  (My Lord, see the way to salvation by the hand of Sweerts). The note's meaning and the identity of the two gentlemen have eluded scholars. The two men appear to be individualized portraits, recalling the tradition of friendship portraits so popular in Northern Europe. The refined execution of this painting is typical of Flemish artist Michael Sweert's late style, practiced when he traveled in India as a missionary. "My Lord," then, may be addressed to the viewer, encouraging him to listen to Sweerts's preaching. With this double portrait, the artist may be urging the observer to find redemption through his belief in God, just as Sweerts did.

- by 1702

Possibly David Renouard (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Source: Amsterdam, Gemeentearchief NAA 3354, ff. 1675-1709; possibly the same as no. 27, "2 Armeniens de Cavaliere Swarte," recorded in a 1702 posthumous inventory.

- 1719

Possibly Quiryn van Biesum (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) [sold, van Biesum sale, Rotterdam, October 18, 1719, lot 96.]
Source: Stechow. "Some Portraits by Michael Sweerts." The Art Quarterly 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1951).
Note: in catalogue as "Een Periaen"

- 1808

Jean-Ignace-Aloyse Vander Beke [sold, Beke sale, Goesin, Ghent, May 24, 1808, lot B0048, to van Rotterdam.]
Source: Provenance Index: Belgian sales; Benjamin Perronet (Fredericksen memo); Stechow (1951).

1808 - 1835

Dr. van Rotterdam [sold, van Rotterdam sale, Regemorter, Ghent, July 6, 1835, lot 100, to van Regemorter.]
Source: Provenance Index: Belgian sales.
Note: as "Antique Italian"

1835 -

van Regemorter (possibly Ignatius Jozef Pieter van Regemorter)
Source: Provenance Index: Belgian sales.


Private Collection (New York, New York)
Source: Stechow (1951).

- by 1958

Samuel Nystad Oude Kunst B. V. (The Hague, The Netherlands)

by 1958 - about 1985

A. Schwarz, died 1984/1985? (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), by inheritance to his daughter, Nettie (Schwarz) Vanderpol.
Source: Kultzen and Di Carpegna. Michael Sweerts en Tijdgenoten, exh. cat. (Rotterdam: Museum Boymans, 1958).

by 1985

Nettie (Schwarz) Vanderpol, born 1926 (Boston, Massachusetts), sold through Samuel Nystad Oude Kunst B.V. (The Hague, The Netherlands), to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.

Michael Sweerts en Tijdgenoten (October 4 to November 23, 1958)
  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), October 4 to November 23, 1958
Michael Sweerts e i Bamboccianti (December 6, 1958 to February 8, 1959)
  • Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia (Rome), December 6, 1958 to February 8, 1959
A Collector's Choice/Terugzien in bewondering (February 19 to March 9, 1982)
  • Mauritshuis (The Hague), February 19 to March 9, 1982
Michael Sweerts (1618-1644) (March 9 to December 1, 2002)
  • Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), March 9 to May 20, 2002
  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor (San Francisco), June 15 to August 25, 2002
  • Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford), September 19 to December 1, 2002

Martin, Willem. "Michael Sweerts als Schilder." Oud Holland 25 (1907), p. 154, no. 34.

Stechow, Wolfgang. "Some Portraits by Michael Sweerts." The Art Quarterly 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1951), pp. 208, 212-13, 215n32, 215n33, fig. 4.

Kultzen, Rolf. "Michael Sweerts (1624-1664)." Unpublished Ph.D. diss. (University of Hamburg, 1954), pp. 169-71, 218, 316, no. 90.

Kultzen, Rolf, and Nolfo Di Carpegna, eds. Michael Sweerts en Tijdgenoten, exh. cat. (Rotterdam: Museum Boymans, 1958), pp. 59-60, no. 57, pl. 1.

Kultzen, Rolf, J. C. Ebbinge Wubben, and Nolfo Di Carpegna, eds. Michael Sweerts e i Bamboccianti, exh. cat. (Rome: Museo di Palazzo Venezia, with Lorenzo Del Turco, 1958), pp. 55-56, no. 58, fig. 58.

Plietzsch, Eduard. Holländische und flämische Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig: E. A. Seemann Verlag, 1960), p. 211, fig. 389.

Watering, William L. van de. Terugzien in Bewondering/A Collector's Choice, exh. cat. (The Hague: Mauritshuis, 1982), p. 212, no. 85.

Liedtke, Walter A. "Clothing the Naked by Michael Sweerts." Apollo 117, no. 251 (January 1983), p. 23, fig. 2.

"Acquisitions/1985." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), p. 216, no. 121.

"New Accessions." Apollo 125, no. 299 (January 1987), p. 65, ill.

Sutton, Peter C. "Recent Patterns of Public and Private Collecting of Dutch Art." In Great Dutch Paintings from America, exh. cat. Ben Broos et al., eds. (The Hague: Mauritshuis, with Waanders, 1990), p. 107.

Kultzen, Rolf. Michael Sweerts: Brussels 1618-Goa 1664. Diane L. Webb, trans. (Ghent: Davaco, 1996), pp. 57n17, 73-75, 127, no. 123, fig. 123.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 124, ill.

Jansen, Guido, and Peter C. Sutton. Michael Sweerts (1618-1664), exh. cat. Duncan Bull, ed. (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2002), pp. 158-60, no. 29, ill.

Mormando, Franco. "Pestilence, Apostasy, and Heresy in Seventeenth-Century Rome: Deciphering Michael Sweerts's 'Plague in an Ancient City.'" In Piety and Plague from Byzantium to the Baroque. Franco Mormando and Thomas Worcester, eds. (Kirksville: Truman State University Press, 2007), pp. 257, 304, 258, fig. 9.5.

Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. Michael Sweerts (1618-1644): Shaping the Artist and the Academy in Rome and Brussels (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2015), p. 225. pl. 23.

Fernández, Luis Nieto. The Painted Parapet: Structure and Symbolism (Madrid: Rayxart Investigacíon, 2017), p. 168, fig. 265.

Mandrella, David. "Michael Sweerts, les dernières années." Revue de l'art, no. 196/2017-2 (June 2017), pp. 22-23, fig. 5.