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Follower of Jan van Eyck, Marco Barbarigo

Key facts
Full title Marco Barbarigo
Artist Follower of Jan van Eyck
Artist dates active 1422; died 1441
Date made about 1449-50
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 24.2 × 16 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1862
Inventory number NG696
Location On loan: Long Loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum (2021 - 2024), Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Collection Main Collection
Marco Barbarigo
Follower of Jan van Eyck

This serious-looking young man is Marco Barbarigo, known as ‘Marco the Rich’, Venetian consul in London in 1449 and Doge of Venice – the elected head of state – in 1485. This portrait was apparently painted while he was in London: he holds a letter addressed to ‘the eminent and distinguished lord Marco Barbarigo’. The address, ‘Londonis’, is partly hidden by his fingers.

The painting’s quality suggests that it was done by a follower rather than Jan van Eyck, but one who was clearly very familiar with the artist’s principles: the bold colours, strong lighting and the slightly distorted proportions are typical of van Eyck. Perhaps Barbarigo, about to return to Italy, commissioned a portrait from an artist working in the latest Netherlandish style to take home as a souvenir; the painting was in Venice in the eighteenth century.

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