Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Theologian (probably a Doctor of Divinity) in his study, wearing black robes and a black cap, he gestures to a bible open at the passage; 1 John 5:7 

 English School 

Portrait miniature of a Theologian (probably a Doctor of Divinity) in his study, wearing black robes and a black cap, he gestures to a bible open at the passage; 1 John 5:7,  English School
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Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
Oval, 3 1/8 in. (80 mm.) high
 
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Gold frame, the reverse with spray of hair, part formed as leaves, held with gold wire and seed pearls, the whole on opalescent glass.

This portrait of a young theologian follows the painterly tradition of portraying scholars in their places of work, surrounded by tomes relating to their area of study. One of the earliest portraits of a learned sitter painted in such a setting is the 1523 portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger of the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466/9-1536). Erasmus was ordained a priest in 1492 and studied theology in Paris, receiving his doctoral degree in Turin in 1506. Holbein painted his friend three times, always in the surroundings of his study working. Although at present unknown, the artist of this portrait would appear to be well versed in this pictorial convention.

The cap or mortarboard worn by the sitter may denote his status as a doctor, although by the early nineteenth century the black cap with a tassel was also worn by students. The portrait of this young man may have been commissioned to commemorate his graduation or his new title.
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