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French, 'Portrait of a Man', mid-16th century

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man
Artist French
Date made mid-16th century
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 28.8 × 23.4 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by A. de Pass, 1920
Inventory number NG3539
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Man

This small picture could be the ruined remains of a competently painted portrait – it’s in poor condition, but the near eye has a complex catchlight consisting of at least three brushstrokes. The surface is badly rubbed, much repainted and obscured by dirt and discoloured varnishes. Thin brown overpaint covers the man’s clothes, hat and background; little or nothing remains of his hair or beard. There are large losses of paint in the upper third of the painting, along the top edge and extending into the hat and forehead. The man’s jacket was once black, his hat grey.

The panel is a single board of oak, the wood for which was grown in France between 1400 and 1535. This, together with the fashion of the collar and hat and what can be made out of the original shapes of the beard and moustache, suggests the picture was painted in France towards the middle of the sixteenth century.

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