Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a Man
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Portraiture, Painting, Oil on panel, 114.5x89 cm
Origin: Britain, 1595

Portraiture occupied a central place in 16th-century British painting. Most artists were foreigners who came in search of commissions in a country with few native painters. They portrayed their clients in the manner set out by the terms of the commission, but preserved their own native painting styles. Although the artist of this work is not known, he can be identifed with the circle of the leading late-16th-century painter Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, a native of Flanders who worked in England. Gheeraerts and his followers mastered the tastes of their British clients in Elizabethan England. The main requirement was a good likeness, but restricted to the physical features of the sitter, character not being considered worthy of notice. The face of this 32-year-old man is totally without emotion. The artist saw his task as to create a portrait of a social type - be it grandee, officer, politician or royalty - and here we see an officer, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword, the other on his armour. The hands with their long, fine fingers are intended not to reveal anything about the sitter but to serve as an instrument to indicate those objects which determine his social status.

Style: Renaissance
Source of entry: State Museum Fund, 1921

See also

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