Although no documented portrait of Fabritius is known, it is generally accepted that this is a self portrait. The sitter wears a steel breastplate and backplate. Fabritius's teacher Rembrandt painted a number of portraits of sitters with a breastplate or gorget in the late 1620s and 1630s, but there is no indication that Rembrandt had any military connection.

They were instead part of a tradition of painting sitters in fanciful costume, of which Fabritius must have been aware. In contrast to most other portraits of the time, with their plain backgrounds, the artist here places himself starkly against a cloudy sky. The picture was painted in 1654, the year Fabritius was killed in the explosion of the municipal powder magazine in his native Delft.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1622 - 1654
Full title
A Young Man in a Fur Cap and a Cuirass (probably a Self Portrait)
Date made
1654
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
70.5 x 61.5 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1924
Inventory number
NG4042
Location in Gallery