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Andrea Solario, 'A Man with a Pink', about 1495

Key facts
Full title A Man with a Pink
Artist Andrea Solario
Artist dates about 1465 - 1524
Date made about 1495
Medium and support Oil and egg on poplar
Dimensions 49.5 × 38.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1875
Inventory number NG923
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Man with a Pink
Andrea Solario

A man carries a pink, or carnation, in his right hand. It was the custom for a bride to hide a pink in her clothes on her wedding day. Its presence here, along with the large blue and gold ring on the man’s left thumb, suggests that the portrait commemorates his marriage.

Solario was from Milan though he also worked in Venice. Although the man’s identity is unknown, his outfit tells us he was a Venetian of high rank. The cap and stole – the piece of fabric folded across his chest – signified maturity in Venice. His tunic suggests he may have been a magistrate, as only members of one of the city’s councils were permitted to wear red.

Venice in the 1490s was at the centre of innovations in portraiture thanks to the adoption of new techniques and ideas from contemporary Netherlandish painting. Solario has painted the man in the latest fashion using a three-quarter, rather than profile, pose set against the background of a green valley.

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