Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Gentleman, thought to be William Dobson (1611-46) 

 English School 17th Century 

Portrait of a Gentleman, thought to be William Dobson (1611-46),  English School 17th Century
Watercolour on vellum
17th Century
Oval, 2 Ĺ inches, 6.4cm high
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The first half of the seventeenth century was arguably the most important period for the development of arts in England and saw the rigidities of the early Stuart period overthrown by the flamboyant arrival of Baroque with Sir Anthony van Dyck in 1632.

The portrait miniature flourished during this period, the greatest exponents being Samuel Cooper and John Hoskins whose virtuoso Ďin smallí captured the attention of patrons for both the miniatureís portable nature and jewel-like qualities.

An old inscription on the reverse of the present work identifies the sitter as Dobson, and indeed the likeness is uncanny, perhaps best comparable to Dobsonís self-portrait with Nicolas Lanier and Sir Charles Cottrell [Duke of Northumberland]. Due to the fact that few other certain likenesses of Dobson are known, it makes a definite identification impossible; however the date of the present work to c.1640 fits comfortably within Dobsonís tragically short life.

Dobson is considered to be Englandís greatest seventeenth native artist and his work is characterised by bold colouring and thick, heavy brushstrokes epitomized in his portraits of Royalist officers stationed at Oxford during the First English Civil War (1642-46).
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