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Portrait of a Man with Raised Eyebrows
Giovanni Battista Moroni
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An unidentified man regards us with a look of affable irony, his eyebrows raised. His chain mail sleeves and tunic would have been worn beneath plate armour, suggesting that he engages in some form of military activity. Similar costume is worn by noblemen in other portraits by Moroni.

The sitter’s reaction to our presence – raising his eyebrows – creates a strong sense of psychological interaction. This expression is unusual in portraiture at this date although Moroni repeated it elsewhere. The feathery brushstrokes in the face, beard and hair bring a liveliness and spontaneity to this small, intimate portrait, and add to the sense that this is a fleeting expression painted rapidly from life.

Moroni uses unobtrusive diagonals set up by background shadows and the slope of the shoulders to give emphasis to the sitter’s raised eyebrows and the tilt of his head. The subtlety of both expression and composition is characteristic of Moroni’s late work.

Key facts
Artist Giovanni Battista Moroni
Artist dates 1520/4 - 1579
Full title Portrait of a Man with Raised Eyebrows
Date made about 1570-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 45.7 x 37.8 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3128
Location in Gallery Room 12
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