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Flemish, Portrait of a Boy holding a Rose

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Boy holding a Rose
Artist Flemish
Date made about 1660
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 93.4 × 64.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan, 1900
Inventory number NG1810
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Boy holding a Rose

We don't know who the boy in the portrait is, or who painted it. It was once thought to have been the work of François Duchastel, a Flemish painter living in Ghent, but the attribution is now considered uncertain. From his ornate, costly costume, fashionable in the Southern Netherlands in the 1660s, we know that the boy is probably the child of nobility.

In spite of his costume, the boy’s wide eyes and arched brows appear a little shy and uncertain. His hand thrusts out of his sleeve to present the rose – as if from the mouth of a trumpet – but he holds it delicately between finger and thumb, perhaps nervous of its thorns. The flower is important: it may be a family symbol, or a token of a betrothal. Noble children as young as eight might be promised in a future marriage as a political alliance.

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