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Dutch, Portrait of a Man and a Woman

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man and a Woman
Artist Dutch
Date made probably 1640s
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 40.3 × 27.2 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Misses Rachel F. and Jean I. Alexander; entered the Collection, 1972
Inventory number NG6414
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Man and a Woman

We don’t know who painted this portrait, or who the couple in the garden are. They seem to pause mid-conversation, their expressions enigmatic, leaving us wondering what the relationship was between them. She holds a glove in her hand – sometimes a symbol of betrothal but always a sign of wealth. He holds a scarf in one hand but points outwards with the other.

Their heavy, black clothes proclaim them as prosperous, if a little out-of-date: by the 1640s, the ruff was still worn but was considered unfashionable. The man’s only nod in the direction of frivolity are the red stockings and enormous garter rosettes on his portly legs, making the woman’s red sleeves dim in comparison. On her wrist she wears a coral bracelet, expensive but often worn as a defence against the 'evil eye’.

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