The Portrait of a Boy – Jan van Scorel

By | June 7, 2017

Jan van Scorel – The Portrait of a Boy

“Who is Rich? He who doesn’t desire any. Who is poor? The Miser”

Portrait of a School Boy – 1531

Original: Museum Boymans Rotterdam, The Netherlands

About the reproductions read below

About the painting

The age (Aetatis 12) of the schoolboy in the painting is written in the right upper corner. The saying on the balustrade at the bottom of the painting translates “Who is Rich? He who doesn’t desire any. Who is poor? The Miser”. Read more on

Our early years in life are seen as very important and directive for the remaining time that we are around.
But imagine to find out at an early stage in life that you are the illegal son of a priest.
That can have an enormous influence on your social as well as mental position and well-being. It happened to the painter Jan van Scorel, who was born in Schoorl in 1495.

We don’t know how much Jan van Scorel suffered from his social descent, and we do know he became canon in the clergy of the Mariakerk in Utrecht at a later age.
But for the famous Erasmus, who was born the illegal child of a priest too, 29 years earlier in Rotterdam, it meant social and mental suffering until the moment of papal dispensation which was granted to Erasmus when he was 50 years old, and that came finally as a huge relief.

Again imagine all that grief, only because you do exist.

Hans Holbein the Younger -Erasmus of Rotterdam – 1523

One thing is certain, Erasmus had an enormous career and so did Jan van Scorel, who played a major role in introducing the Italian Renaissance style into Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting.

Van Scorel started his training as a painter from early years, possibly with the Master of Alkmaar, with Willemsz in Haarlem, van Oostsanen in Amsterdam and in Utrecht with Jan Gossaert, who was one of the first Northern-European painters to have visited Italy, and who saw Michelangelo and Rafael at work in Rome.
Jan van Scorel may have worked together with Maerten van Heemskerck in 1517 in Haarlem.

In 1518 he set off for a long trip. He met Albrecht Dürer in Neurenberg, who had a huge influence on his work and he then continued to Venice, where Giorgione was his great inspirator. He went on to Rome, where he stayed from 1522 till 1524 and became highly inspired by the work of Michelangelo and Rafael.

Presentation in the Temple

Van Scorel met the Dutch pope Adrianus VI, who would only be Pope for one year and eight months and who would remain the last non-Italian pope until John-Paul II.
He became the pope’s Court painter, the pope sat for his portrait by him and van Scorel was nominated Keeper of the Belvedere, the superintendent of the pope’s collection as the successor of Rafaello.

(When in Holland, go visit the “papal room” in Hotel De Gouden Leeuw in the small city of Goeree, where Adrianus stayed before becoming pope. It is one of the many good reasons to travel to the province of Zeeland with its marvelous Dutch skies, which inspired so many Dutch landscape painters).

During his time in Rome, he made a pilgrimage by ship to Jerusalem in Palestina, the many sketches of this trip Van Scorel is supposed to have drawn have unfortunately perished.

After his return to the Netherlands in 1523, he lived in Utrecht, where he had a great career as a true renaissance man of many skills, not only as painter and teacher but also as an engineer and architect. He was canon in the Maria church in Utrecht and lived together with Agatha van Schoonhoven, with whom he had four sons and two daughters.
Agatha’s famous portrait by her lover Jan van Scorel is in the Gallery Doria Pamphilj in Rome, see below.

Madonna of the Daffodils – ca. 1530

Jan van Scorel died in 1562 and was buried in the same Maria church in Utrecht.
He left an enormous number of altarpieces and portraits behind. But shortly after many of his works were destroyed during the Beeldenstorm (Iconoclasm) in 1566, luckily quite some of his works can still be seen mainly in museums in the Netherlands.


Portrait of a Venetian Man – ar. 1520 – Original: Landesmuseum Oldenburg, Germany and

Portrait of a Thirty-Two-Year-Old Man – 1521 – Original: Louvre Museum, Paris

The 12 Members of the Haarlem Brotherhood of Jerusalem Pilgrims – ca. 1528 –
Original Frans Hals Museum Haarlem, Netherlands

Reproductions on Amazon

Portrait of a Boy
The only reproductions available are quality reproductions in canvas prints by Art Oyster, fortunately the colour of the boy’s skin looks very natural in these reproductions.

Or go to 1st-Art-Gallery to order a hand-painted oil paint reproduction of this stunning portrait.

Presentation in the Temple – by ArtOyster , although the colours of the robes are not as green as in the original painting

The portraits of a Venetian man and a man of Thirty-two-years old are equal in quality with both Canvas Art and Art MegaArt

The beautiful portrait by Jan van Scorel of his lifetime companion Agatha van Schoonhoven is in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj in Rome, Italy.


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