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Master of the View of St Gudula, Portrait of a Young Man

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Young Man
Artist Master of the View of St Gudula
Artist dates active later 15th century
Date made probably early 1480s
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 22.8 × 14 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2612
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Young Man
Master of the View of St Gudula

We are looking through an arched window of a brick house at a well-dressed young man. He holds a heart-shaped book; a pen case and inkwell sit on the window ledge. This tiny painting was possibly once part of a diptych (a painting made of two parts). The young man may be at his devotions, and might originally have been gazing at a religious image in the missing left wing.

There are no obvious indications who the sitter was. He may have been a scribe, though clearly – considering his clothes and jewellery – an affluent one. Behind him is the church of Our Lady of the Zavel and a view towards the walls of Brussels. This is one of the earliest known views of the city and an early example of a relatively exact rendering of a recognisable place.

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