Man in a Blue Chaperon Jan van Eyck Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The blue headdress in this painting is sometimes referred to as a chaperon, a turban or even a cap. What we do know is that this painting was completed in 1430 by Jan van Eyck.

There has also been some discussion as to whether the subject was actually a jeweller, hence the ring that he holds. This has never been confirmed but seems quite probable. It has proven difficult to make too many firm conclusions about Van Eyck's career with such a small ouevre still remaining and also so many centuries have passed since more scientific research has become available. There are, however, several related portraits from his career that we can compare with this portrait of a man with a blue chaperon, including, of course, the Man in a Turban.

The subject in this painting looks particularly serious, just as in most of his other single portrait paintings. This type of composition was also common, where the view would go below shoulder length down to waist height, allowing hands to be included and perhaps symbolic items alongside them. Here the artist makes use of a ring in the man's right hand which he appears to be offering, perhaps for sale or perhaps as a gift. Maybe his series look suggests he is working in a professional capacity as a jeweller, but it is hard to be sure.

Another aspect of this painting that is consistent with Van Eyck's other portraits is that lighting is used very abruptly - there is near darkness across the background and around the subject's torso, with his own outfit being also deliberately dark and merging with the background. The light is then lavishly applied to his face, the blue chaperon, plus also his hands. That suggests that the ring in his hands may have been significant.

This is another small painting by Van Eyck, though it remains in good condition and can be found at the Brukenthal National Museum in Sibiu, Romania. Indeed the painting was featured in the 1960s on a postage stamp within the same country, representing this nation's love for this rare and highly valuable painting from the Northern Renaissance some 500 years ago.

Man in a Blue Chaperon in Detail Jan van Eyck