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David’s Notes: Isaak Abrahamsz Massa

December 23rd, 2009

Isaak Abrahamsz Massa, 1626

Dressed for success? Meet a busy networker from 400 years ago – extrovert Dutch businessman Isaak Massa, with his fashionable moustache and goatee.

Like today, black clothes were definitely ‘in’. Black was the most expensive dye available – so were broad collars and felt hats made from Canadian beaver pelts. Dutch businessmen traded around the world and got rich from it. They invented globalization, the stock market, and paying with cheques.

No one knows for sure the meaning of the holly branch the sitter holds. It may symbolize Massa’s faithfulness to his wife when he was away on business.

Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/3-1666)
Isaak Abrahamsz Massa
oil on canvas
79.7 x 65.1cm
Art Gallery of Ontario, Bequest of Frank P. Wood 1955
© 2009 Art Gallery of Ontario

  • yan

    love this short essay, witty and cool!

  • yan

    love this short essay, witty and cool!