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Possibly by Jacopino del Conte, 'Portrait of a Boy', about 1540

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Boy
Artist Possibly by Jacopino del Conte
Artist dates about 1515? - 1598
Date made about 1540
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 129 × 61 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG649
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Boy
Possibly by Jacopino del Conte

The boy regarding us stands in a relaxed confident manner, with one hand on his hip and the other holding the hilt of his sword. The vertical glossy gold stripes of the curtain effectively frame his elegant pose. The costume suggests a date in the mid-1540s and is plainly that of a wealthy family; the full-length format of the portrait also points to an aristocratic sitter.

The boy has been identified as Orazio Farnese (1532–1553), a grandson of Pope Paul III. At the age of nine in 1541, Orazio was sent to the court of King Francis I of France with the aim of promoting a Farnese-Valois alliance. His family commissioned the portrait to mark this occasion. It was the first of several portraits Jacopino was to paint of Farnese family members.

Jacopino has recorded the decoration of the costume and the textures of the various fabrics in exquisite detail. This little boy is not dressed as a child but as a miniature nobleman, even carrying his own sword.

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