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Workshop of the Master of the Holy Blood, 'A Young Man Praying', probably 1525-30

Key facts
Full title A Young Man Praying
Artist Workshop of the Master of the Holy Blood
Artist dates active early 16th century
Date made probably 1525-30
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 24.1 × 18.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1879
Inventory number NG1063
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Young Man Praying
Workshop of the Master of the Holy Blood

We do not know this man’s identity, although he was once thought to be the sixteenth-century theologian Martin Luther, who was a leading figure of the Protestant Reformation. This was once the left wing of a folding diptych or triptych (a painting of two or three parts respectively). There are remains of red paint on the reverse, which may have shown an object against a red background, perhaps a stone figure of a biblical character in a red marble niche.

The portrait has much in common with Bruges paintings of the 1520s. One artist in particular, known as the Master of the Holy Blood, tended to distort his faces in a similar way to that seen here – the large nose is almost in profile, while the face is in three-quarter view. It seems likely this painting is from his workshop.

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