Gillis van Tilborgh the Younger's Self-Portrait in the Studio is a delightfully intimate depiction of the artist at work. Portraying himself at about age fifteen, Van Tilborgh sits before his easel, palette in one hand and several brushes in the other. As he turns and stares toward the viewer, his dark eyes, partly opened mouth, and hunched shoulders have a spontaneous character, as though he has been interrupted in the midst of his work. A variety of studio miscellany appears behind the artist, including a jar of oil and bowl for mixing pigments, and pinned to the wall, a freely drawn sketch of a man smoking.
Van Tilborgh was the pupil of his father Gillis Van Tilborgh the Elder and probably of David Teniers the Younger, from whom he derived the pose for this small-scale work. Teniers often depicted drawings tacked to the studio wall in his own work, and Van Tilborgh similarly inserted tacked drawings of genre figures in his paintings. The inclusion of the drawing in this work augments the feeling of authenticity, for artists generally relied on preliminary drawings when executing their paintings. The prominence of the sketch in the Gallery's painting suggests this working process and invites the viewer to imagine the composition in progress on the young artist's easel.
(Hartveld Gallery, New York), in 1946. Mrs. Mary van Berg, New York, in 1947. (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, New York, 15 January 1985, no. 238, as Attributed to Aries de Vois); Otto Naumann and Heidi Shafranek, New York; gift 2003 to NGA.
- Portrait de l'Artiste: images des peintres 1600-1890, Haboldt & Co., Paris, 1991-1992, no. 16, as Dutch 17th Century, Portrait présumé d'Isaak van Ostade.
- Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Birmingham Museum of Art, 2014-2015, no. 41, repro.
- Berg, Mary van. The van Berg Collection of Paintings. New York, 1947: 32, repro., as by Adriaen van Ostade.
- Raupp, Hans-Joachim. Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnis und Künstlerdarstellung in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert. Hildesheim and New York, 1984: 309, repro., as Anonymous.
- Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2005: 253-255, color repro.