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Gonzales Coques, Portrait of a Man

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man
Artist Gonzales Coques
Artist dates 1614/18 - 1684
Date made about 1670
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 16.1 × 12.2 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2527
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Man
Gonzales Coques

The languid brown eyes of a young man gaze out at us, his look faintly quizzical. But who is he? His long hair waves softly about his neck, the shadow of a moustache dusts his upper lip, a wisp of a curl brushes a wide brow, and his full mouth pouts a little, adding to the uncertainty of his expression.

The portrait is a miniature, just over 16 by 12.2 cm. Its delicate oval shape is contained in a heavy, hexagonal Netherlandish frame. In the days before photography, miniature portraits were made of wealthy people for families, friends or for diplomatic contacts.

When the portrait came to the National Gallery in 1910, it had a label on the back stating that the young man was Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Monmouth. By the time a new catalogue was published in 1915, this identification had been discounted. He was dubbed with the title ‘Unknown’, and there he stays.

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