Emanuel von Baeyer

Portrait of the Swiss Goldsmith Johann Rudolf Simler 1720

Jean van Leining
1694 – Zurich – 1762

Black and red chalk. Size of sheet: 32 x 25.2 cm. With inscription at the top Joh. Rudolf Simler von Zurich Gold = Arbeiter and at bottom Jean van Leining, Brabant. fecit Amstelodami a 1720.

Johann Rudolf Simler (1694 – Zurich – 1762) came from a long lineage of Swiss goldsmiths and was himself made ‘Meister’ in 1721, making it tempting to speculate that this portrait is in celebration of the honour soon to be bestowed upon him.

The present drawing is beautifully detailed and observant. Little is known about Jean van Leining (1) but from this drawing his abilities in sensitive renderings of human expression are clear and we see an intimate exchange between the two craftsmen. It is highly likely that Leining himself was a goldsmith or metalworker and our portrait shows the true spirit of a ‘Freundschaftsbild’.

(1) The artist is not listed in the RKD (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, Amsterdam).

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