A Mysterious 19thC Oil on Canvas Portrait of a Gentleman

Origin: Unknown
Period: Mid/Late Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860-90
Canvas: 14 inches x 9.5 inches
The Whole in Frame: 19.5 inches x 15 inches

The head and shoulders bust portrait painting of a young gentleman in oils on canvas, in dark period dress, presented in the original gilded frame survives from the second half of the nineteenth century and is apparently unsigned.

The picture and frame are both in what could be described as ‘attic condition’ literally left untouched for a minimum of a century and as such there is a commensurate amount of brushed dirt across the canvas and the frame has some small losses to the gesso mouldings and it does lack a stretcher so the canvas is fairly loose. The picture is very dirty and if cleaned would become something entirely different, but it is in this condition that we simply love, its faded grandeur is matched by the original frame, the entire composition talks to you, or rather screams, of haunted portraits or abandoned country houses.

The level of skill seen in the painting is fairly accomplished, the young gentleman, probably in his thirties or early forties, is depicted relatively seriously with a fixed expression, one can just make out some rose tint to his cheeks and the flesh to the face is rather round and full whilst the whites of his eyes are hardly still apparent.

The question of whether to leave well alone or try to restore to a more ‘original’ state is an intriguing quandary, which we enjoy… certainly for those who love their art filmic, dark and mysterious.