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Studio of Caspar Netscher, Portrait of a Young Man

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Young Man
Artist Studio of Caspar Netscher
Artist dates 1635/6 - 1684
Date made 1679
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 47.5 × 38.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Baron Savile, 1891
Inventory number NG1332
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Young Man
Studio of Caspar Netscher

A young man stands leaning to one side, his arm resting on a stone plinth. His gaze is soft and he has a slight smile on his face. The artist has concentrated on the long curled hair, the elaborate and expensive lace, and his long fingers.

The plinth shows a relief carving of Eros, the god of love, doing battle with Pan, the horned god associated with fertility. The sculpture, then, symbolises true love overcoming lust. The portrait may have celebrated a betrothal or a marriage, when a young man would be expected to settle down to domesticity – perhaps after living a more carefree life. But since we don‘t know his identity, we can’t be sure if this has any significance for the young sitter.

This picture was once thought to be by Caspar Netscher, but the signature and date aren't in his handwriting and were probably added later.

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