Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Three Year Old Boy 1596

 English School c.1600 

Portrait of a Three Year Old Boy,  English School c.1600
Oil on Panel
16th Century
23 x 19 inches, 58.5 x 48 cm
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This picture is an extremely rare survival of late sixteenth century child portraiture, and, unusually, retains its original frame. The frame is inscribed with both the date of the painting, 1596, a date confirmed by dendrochronological anaylsis of the European oak panel on which it is painted. The age of the sitter is also given on the frame, ‘Aetatis 3’. The boy holds the attributes of youth and familial devotion, a pair of cherries and a single carnation, or ‘pink’. The picture was evidently painted from life, judging from the free and sketchy nature of the under-drawing visible beneath the paint layers. The flower probably relates to the Latin inscription, which can be translated as ‘Life is flower followed by dust and shadow’.
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