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Portrait of a Man
Portrait of a Man
Oil on wood
Framed: 52.5 x 38 x 5 cm (20 11/16 x 14 15/16 x 1 15/16 in.); Unframed: 42.5 x 27.6 cm (16 3/4 x 10 7/8 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1963.503
The man pictured here didn't accidentally rip his coat, he is actually sporting highly fashionable slashed sleeves. Decorative openings in the sleeves of garments, revealing the rich fabric underneath, were all the rage in 15th-century society.
Although the subject of this portrait wears rich clothing and a sword, nothing specifically associates him with aristocracy. Instead he may have been a wealthy member of the middle class. During the 1400s, portraiture became increasingly popular with prosperous merchants and tradesmen who imitated the portraits commissioned by the dukes of Burgundy and members of their court. The artist is equally mysterious and unidentified. The highly refined technique of oil painting suggests a familiarity with Netherlandish art, and the dark palette and clothing allude to Burgundian portraiture. However, the clothing and facial type relate more to French traditions. The artist may have hailed from France or the Low Countries, a region with a long artistic association with the Valois dukes of Burgundy who ruled the Netherlands in the late 1300s and 1400s.
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