A 19thC English School Oil on Canvas Portrait of a Gentleman c.1830-50

Origin: Unknown
Period: William IV/Early Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1830-50
In Frame:
Height: 23.5”
Width: 20.5”

The well-realised head and shoulders depiction of thoughtful gentleman in his middle years, in oils on canvas, the face emerging from the dark ground, the faint outline of his black overcoat contrasting with the white collar, the sitter glancing pensively into the distance and the work surviving from the second quarter of the nineteenth century.

From inspecting the reverse, the picture looks to have been cut down from a larger composition, with the whole remaining in good aesthetic order – whilst there is a patch verso as photographed it isn’t apparent from the front. The giltwood frame in in keeping but is late 20thc and by a reputable maker in Austen Hayes, York.

The hand here is very competent and was obviously very well versed in the technique of Chiaroscuro, using the contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling.

As with the ‘selfie’ today, portraits were also a chance for more self-conscious sitters to be depicted in the latest fashions. In the eighteenth century, the upper classes entered a new era of prosperity. No longer the preserve of royalty, commissioned portraits, of oneself or one’s ancestors, became a coveted symbol of wealth and status which continued even more so in the nineteenth century. The portraits took pride of place in the home or were given to others as gifts.

One of those portraits that just has that special something… whatever that may be.