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Jean-Marc Nattier, 'Portrait of a Man in Armour', about 1750

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man in Armour
Artist Jean-Marc Nattier
Artist dates 1685 - 1766
Date made about 1750
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 54 × 44.5 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Emilie Yznaga, 1945
Inventory number NG5587
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Man in Armour
Jean-Marc Nattier

We do not know the identity of this elegant young man in armour. Neither the wig nor the costume allows us to date the portrait precisely. He turns to look at us, as though glancing back for a moment, his lips slightly parted and his eyes directly meeting ours. The medal decorating his armour is that of a chevalier (knight) of the military Order of St Louis. However, too many officers were awarded that honour in the years around 1750 to be able to work out with any certainty who he might be.

The armour also appears in Nattier’s 1745–6 portraits of the baron de Besenval (State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg) and the duc de Penthièvre (copy in a private collection) and was presumably a studio prop. The picture surface is covered with a thick yellowed varnish but the portrait has not been cut down.

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