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Un Univers intime. Paintings from the Frits Lugt Collection
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Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn
(The Hague c. 1572-1657 The Hague)
Portrait of Hugo Grotius at the age of sixteen
Panel, diameter 31 cm; signed and dated 1599
Acquired in 1918; inv. 175

This painting is the first known work of the great portraitist Van Ravesteyn. All the others date from after 1610 and have a more naturalistic treatment, quite different to the mannerist elements present here. The model is none other than the famous Hugo de Groot (Grotius), a great jurist and one of the founders of international law. He was only sixteen at the time, as the inscription on the right indicates, but he had already set up professionally in The Hague. The gifted young man had been awarded his doctorate the previous year from the University of Leiden, and had taken part in a diplomatic visit to France to meet Henri IV.