In this intimate full-length portrait, the Deventer burgomaster (chief magistrate) Gerhard van Suchtelen (1640–1722) stands gracefully in a domestic interior gazing out at the viewer with an air of restrained elegance. Deventer, located in the province of Overijssel in the eastern portion of the Netherlands, held tightly to tradition and conservative values, qualities that Gerhard conveys with his somber black attire: a full, short black cloak over an abbreviated, partly unbuttoned doublet, wide petticoat breeches trimmed at the hem, and black ribbons adorning his square-toed shoes. Gerhard's black hat rests casually on the table, as though he had just removed it after entering the room—a motif that helps endow the composition with a sense of naturalism Ter Borch conceived this portrait of Gerhard van Suchtelen as a pendant, or companion piece, to a portrait of Gerhard's wife, Maria van Suchtelen (1642–1730) (see the Gallery's Maria van Suchtelen, 2014.136.47). In both, light illuminates the scene from the upper right as the sitters pose before a red velvet chair and table. The plain simplicity of the interior setting in which Gerhard stands contrasts with the refined and delicate brushwork modelling him and his clothes.
During the 1660s, Ter Borch was the leading portrait painter of the Deventer elite, and he developed a style of full-length portraiture that reinforced its conservative traditions. The remarkable delicacy of Ter Borch's brushwork allowed him to capture the individuality of each sitter. As in this portrait, Ter Borch's intent was to present an exacting likeness while also reflecting the sitter's status within the community.
reverse under the lining: No. 5 / Gerhard van Suchtelen / Burgermeister der Stad / Deventer Soon van / Abraham van Suchtelen / Getekend met / No. 3 (No. 5 / Gerhard van Suchtelen / Burgomaster of the city / Deventer Son of / Abraham van Suchtelen / Drawn with No. 3)
E.H. Fahey, London, in 1882. William Frederick Barton Massey Mainwaring [1845-1907], London, in 1884. Sir George Donaldson [1845-1925]; (sale, London, 1906); William A. Clark [1839-1925], New York; bequest 1926 to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington; acquired 2014 by the National Gallery of Art.
- Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 7 January-15 March 1884, no. 60, as Portrait of a Man.
- Loan to display with permanent collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 1908-1909, as Portrait of a Man Standing.
- The Hudson-Fulton Celebration, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September-November 1909, no. 130, repro., as Portrait of a Young Man.
- Antiquities to Impressionism: The William A. Clark Collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 3 November 2001-5 February 2002, unnumbered catalogue, repro.