Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman wearing a support c.1816

 French School 

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman wearing a support,  French School
Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
Oval, 6.4cm (2 ½ in) high
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Gold frame.

The present work has proved to be somewhat of an enigma given the presence of an unidentified strap we see worn around the sitter’s head. The most logical function of said strap would be as an eye patch, but this of course begs the question as to why he is not wearing it properly. Another suggestion has been a visor - commonly worn by artists at work, and perhaps used here as an indicator of his profession. Another plausible idea is that he is a boxer and that this is a more ‘presentable’ form of bandage to assist with the healing of a ‘bust brow’, indeed one could be forgiven for thinking his eye looks slightly inflamed on closer inspection.

Either way the present work, by a currently unidentified French artist, displays a high level of characterisation and technical skill in the painting of the face, with a much thicker application of paint in the background than is seen in the work of more familiar artists of the period.
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