Artist dates:
Type of work:
Oil on canvas
49 x 40 cm (unframed)

Jacob Smits loved children.

His numerous child portraits and mother-and-child themes are a continuous proof of that.

Of his first wife Antje Doetje Kramer, he had two daughters, Theodora and Annie.

Of Malvina Dedeyn, who died giving birth, he had 4 kids of whom

 Boby, Marguerite and Kobe, survived.

This Portrait is comparable with the portrait in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, 74 cm x 61 cm, dated around 1904-1905 (fig.).

Seen the age of Kobe, 7 or 8 years old, this work must have been painted at the same period as the museum piece.

Walter Vanbeselaere writes about this work: “ it has an obvious Rembrandtesque feel and evokes the portraits of Rembrandts son Titus, in fact it is unthinkable without it.” [1]  

In our portrait as well, we feel the influence of the great Master.

And if we have to pull the comparison with Rembrandt, than rather with the self-portrait in the Germanishes Museum in Nürnberg, painted around 1629 (fig.).

Inhere the claire-obscure rendering of the face, and the lovelock on the left side of Kobe’s face, are astonishingly similar.

The red background as well as the thickly brushed flaxen hairs of the sitter, gives this work a warm intimacy.

On the bottom side of the painting, Smits plays with the unpainted canvas, which gives a final note to this spontaneously painted gem.


1. Dr. W. VANBESELAERE, Jacob Smits, Kasterlee, uitg. De Vroente, 1975, p. 78