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Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of a Young Man in Red

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Young Man in Red
Artist Domenico Ghirlandaio
Artist dates 1449 - 1494
Date made probably about 1480-90
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 38.7 × 27.6 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2489
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Young Man in Red
Domenico Ghirlandaio

Capturing the physical likeness of a sitter as well as their soul or character was crucial to Renaissance portraiture, and this was made easier with the introduction of the three-quarter view, as used here. It allows us to see more of the sitter’s face and so is more engaging than the previously preferred profile view, which derived from ancient coins and medals.

The turn of the sitter’s torso towards the viewer was, like the landscape setting, a feature of Netherlandish portraiture. The imaginary landscapes usually included a river or lake between a valley and mountains beyond. Distant fortifications, painted in miniature, were also often included to emphasise the breadth of the landscape.

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