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Associate of Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen, Portrait of a Man (Alfonso de Valdés?)

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man (Alfonso de Valdés?)
Artist Associate of Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen
Artist dates about 1504; died 1559
Date made about 1531
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 42 × 33.8 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2607
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Man (Alfonso de Valdés?)
Associate of Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen

The sitter, wearing a lynx-lined coat, holds up a medal showing a bearded man dressed as a cardinal; the Latin inscription identifies him as Mercurio Arbono di Gattinara, Grand Chancellor to Emperor Charles V. The sitter is probably Alfonso de Valdés, one of Gattinara’s closest associates.

Judging from the costume, the portrait was perhaps painted shortly after Gattinara’s death in 1530. Alfonso was in the Low Countries in 1531; in October of that year he wrote to a friend and mentioned a portrait left unfinished in the Netherlands, of which copies were being made (he didn't name the artist of the original or the copy).

Although the painting has been trimmed and is damaged and discoloured by retouching, stylistically it can be attributed to the principal associate of Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, painter and tapestry designer to the Habsburgs. Vermeyen seems to have had a colleague who trained in the workshop of Bernaert van Orley and who worked on a number of his portraits, including this one.

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