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Marco d'Oggiono, Portrait of a Man aged 20 ('The Archinto Portrait')

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man aged 20 ('The Archinto Portrait')
Artist Marco d'Oggiono
Artist dates documented from 1487; died 1524
Date made 1494
Medium and support Oil on walnut
Dimensions 53.3 × 38.1 cm
Inscription summary Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1898
Inventory number NG1665
Location Gallery B
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Man aged 20 ('The Archinto Portrait')
Marco d'Oggiono

A young man gazes past us and into the distance, his hand resting on a marble shelf. We don‘t know who he is, but he holds a scroll bearing his age (20), the date (1494) and a monogram, apparently ’AMPRF‘. This is probably an early portrait by the Milanese painter Marco d’Oggiono, a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, and there are many similarities between this painting and Leonardo’s La Belle Ferronière (Louvre, Paris).

Like Leonardo, d'Oggiono seems to have been experimenting with novel painting techniques. Very unusually for panel painting there is no gesso ground (a common preparatory layer), only a thick layer of lead white pigment in oil. The distinctive ashen hue of the flesh is partly the result of large amounts of charcoal black in the shadows, but it has been exacerbated by the fading of the red lake pigment that would have given a warmer tone.

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