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English School, circa 1630
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English School, circa 1630

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Full length portrait of a little boy with his pet dog, standing by a table with a velvet red tablecloth. He is dressed in a richly embroidered surcoat and doublet, and holds a toy lance in his right hand and a paper in his left. A large hat with a red feather rests on the table.

 

Inscribed with the sitter’s age (21 months) and dated 1630

 

Oil painting on oak canvas 45 x 33.5 inches (60 x 48 inches including frame)

 

Provenance: According to old labels on the reverse, from Haddam Castle. Also inscribed “Owner of this picture is Rev WCR Bedford, Cotswold, Kenilworth Rd, Leamington Spa. This picture was formerly in the Collection of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe the Edinburgh Antiquary a friend of Walter Scott”

Literature: Stephanie Hoppen, Picture Perfect, Published by Jacqui Small, London2004, with full-page colour illustration, p. 51

 

Much English portraiture of the 16th and early 17th century remains anonymous as to its author, despite the frequent high quality of the unknown artist’s technique. This exceptionally well preserved and charming portrait exemplifies the point perfectly: the painterly technique is idiosyncratic and of high quality, but we have insufficient knowledge to attempt at accurate attribution. The style of the composition, and the fashion of the costume, certainly point to an English origin for the painting. However, the painterly technique is reminiscent of the works of some of the provincial artists working in North Holland (Friesland) at the same date. Given its provenance to an East Anglian collection, it is perhaps possible to imagine that the picture is by a Dutch immigrant who has crossed over from the Hoek of Holland to seek portrait commission in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. Other works by the same hand are known; none is securely attributed.