This is the stunning self-portrait of the Amsterdam painter Karel Dujardin. Dujardin (1626-1678) was a versatile artist and at home in many genres, though his Italianate landscapes were and are most popular. Dujardin traveled widely and spent part of his life in Italy.
In Rome, he was a member of the (in)famous society De Bentvueghels (‘Birds of a flock’), an organization of mainly Netherlandish artists who lived in the Eternal City to study its omnipresent art and culture. All members of the club had playful nicknames, such as ‘Beer fly’ (Dirck van Baburen), ‘Scarecrow’ (Willem van Aelst), ‘Satyr’ (Cornelis van Poelenburgh) or ‘Rattle’ (Jan Baptist Weenix, for his speech defect). Every new member was traditionally baptized in an initiation ritual in the Santa Costanza. In this beautiful 4th century church, the Bentvueghels held their ‘Bacchic’ celebrations, accompanied by lots of wine, until Pope Clement XI banned this practice in 1720. To the present day, many of their names can still be seen, carved in the wall in one of the chapels.Karel Dujardin (who was nicknamed ‘Goatee’) developed into a very successful artist. He lived in several places in Europe before returning to Amsterdam, where his work was soon in great demand. Dujardin became a prosperous and respected citizen, living on the posh Herengracht in Amsterdam. His self-confidence is reflected in this portrait from 1662. In the seventies, he decided to travel back to Italy, where he died unexpectedly in 1678 after a lavish meal.