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Follower of Jan van Eyck, A Young Man holding a Ring

Key facts
Full title A Young Man holding a Ring
Artist Follower of Jan van Eyck
Artist dates active 1422; died 1441
Date made perhaps about 1450
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 17.8 × 12.4 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2602
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Young Man holding a Ring
Follower of Jan van Eyck

We don‘t know the identity of the young man in this small portrait, but his clothes are those of a wealthy individual. The fur of his cuffs and collar is spotted, which is unusual in mid-fifteenth-century Netherlandish painting; it might be lynx. The laced collar of his doublet is perhaps a German rather than Netherlandish fashion.

The gold ring he holds is set with a green and a red cabochon – polished, rather than cut – stone. The form of ring, with its double stones, is uncommon: might it have been a wedding ring? Or was the sitter perhaps a goldsmith, advertising his wares?

Behind him is a blue and white striped background patterned with rain clouds. There are words in between the clouds: har las uber gan (’Lord, let it pass over'). This is presumably the sitter’s motto – though not unique to him – asking God to let trouble pass away.

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