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Portrait of a Man
Philippe Mercier
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The man in this portrait has not yet been identified, but he is probably from the Yorkshire gentry. With his body positioned at a slight angle to us, in a three-quarter view, he leans against a stone column with his right hand tucked into his waistcoat – a pose that was often adopted by English sitters in the mid-eighteenth century. X-ray photography reveals that the position of his left hand has been changed and that it may originally have been holding a cane with a silver or ivory handle. Although it is difficult to see beneath the covering of dark yellow varnish, there is a landscape with trees in the background.

The artist, Philippe Mercier, was born in Berlin in 1689 to French Huguenot parents, but eventually settled in England. He lived in York from 1739, working extensively as a portrait painter for the local gentry. This was perhaps his most productive period, during which this picture was painted.

Key facts
Artist Philippe Mercier
Artist dates 1689 - 1760
Full title Portrait of a Man
Date made 1740
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 81.3 x 65.4 cm
Inscription summary Dated
Acquisition credit Sir Claude Phillips Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG4036
Location in Gallery Not on display
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