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Jacometto, Portrait of a Boy

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Boy
Artist Jacometto
Artist dates active about 1472; died before 1498
Date made probably about 1475-98
Medium and support Tempera and oil on wood
Dimensions 22.9 × 19.7 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2509
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Boy

This is a rare surviving portrait by the Venetian painter and manuscript illuminator Jacometto, and it shows his delicate and refined painting style. The boy’s beauty is probably an idealised version of reality; portraits were thought to represent the subject’s soul as well as their facial features, and beauty was associated with good character.

Jacometto has adopted several elements of the successful and popular portraiture style of the Sicilian artist Antonello da Messina who arrived in Venice in 1475. These include the dark background, the cropped view of the torso turned slightly to the sitters' right and the strong lighting.

The picture’s small size and its reverse, which is painted with an abstract pattern imitating marble, mean it was probably intended to be carried with its owner as a keepsake of the boy.

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