Skip to main content
A Man with Pansies and a Skull
Follower of Jan van Scorel
/

We don't know who painted this portrait or the sitter’s identity, though he was clearly a man of means. His clothes are rich but sombre – a black or dark grey hat and doublet, and a purple coat lined with grey damask. His white shirt is finely woven and the laces at his neck have gold tips; he wears four gold rings. His clothing suggests that the portrait was painted in about 1535 in the regions of the Low Countries north of the Rhine and the Meuse.

His hand is resting on a damaged skull, which has lost most of its teeth and its lower jaw. Skulls in Renaissance painting were symbols of death, while pansies could stand for thoughts (pensée, which means thought, is the flower’s French name). The man is clearly meditating on death, hence his solemn and distant expression.

Key facts
Artist Follower of Jan van Scorel
Artist dates 1495 - 1562
Full title A Man with Pansies and a Skull
Date made about 1535
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 27.6 × 21.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1878
Inventory number NG1036
Location in Gallery Room 14
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo