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Italian, North, 'Three Men and a Little Girl', about 1540

Key facts
Full title Three Men and a Little Girl
Artist Italian, North
Date made about 1540
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 83.8 × 69.9 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2597
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Three Men and a Little Girl
Italian, North

The people in this group portrait have not been identified, but they may be from Venice as the dress of the men is Venetian in style. The child’s costume, which is recognisably that of a girl, can be dated to around 1540.

The central man – probably the girl’s father – holds her protectively in his arms. He looks directly at us, his right hand apparently pointing at something beyond the right edge of the painting. It is very rare in sixteenth-century Italian portraiture to find a female child included among an all-male group. It is possible that this portrait was originally a larger family portrait that was cut down and adapted over time.

The fusion of North Italian and Netherlandish style and technique suggests the picture may be by a North Italian painter influenced by Netherlandish art.

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