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Van der Helst was a fashionable portraitist of the Dutch upper and wealthy middle classes. Having profited from the art of Frans Hals and Rembrandt, he developed a realistic, yet decorative portrait style. Besides capturing the character, he also paid attention to the outward appearances, and intensified the painterly effect by painting accessories with virtuosity. This portrait was commissioned by Gideon de Wildt, who subsequently became a rear admiral of the Dutch fleet. The seascape detail in the background was probably painted by Willem van de Velde the Younger. This picture's companion piece, depicting Gideon de Wildt's wife, is in the Lyon museum.

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