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French, Profile Portrait of a Young Man

Key facts
Full title Profile Portrait of a Young Man
Artist French
Date made possibly about 1580
Medium and support Oil on paper mounted on canvas
Dimensions 38.5 × 28.5 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by G.F. Watts, 1885
Inventory number NG1190
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Profile Portrait of a Young Man

A young man with fair hair and blue eyes is shown from the side, with nothing to indicate his identity or social status. The picture is painted on a paper support, which may originally have been laid down on a panel; it is now mounted on canvas.

Profile portraits like this had largely gone out of favour in France during the sixteenth century, but the form was not totally unfashionable. It is perhaps possible that this, painted on paper, may be a study for, or even a fragment of, a cartoon (a full-size preparation) for a tapestry. In one of the Valois Tapestries (Florence, Uffizi), a child standing in front of Catherine de' Medici – probably her grandson, Charles of Valois – is shown in profile. His head is not unlike this painting.

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