A Mid-19thC Continental School Portrait of a Gentleman c.1850

Origin: Central European, Possibly Bavarian
Period: Mid -19thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1840-50
Height: 18.5”
Width: 14.75”

The unframed half-length depiction of an intriguing looking gentleman in his middle years, in oils on canvas, clad in a formal black overcoat and cravatte, and clutching a Panama type hat, with a mountainous background, the work surviving from the middle part of the nineteenth century and in un-restored condition.

The picture has been left untouched and there is wear and some abrasions to the lower section in particular as photographed. There are no restorations or over painting. There is small remains of a paper label to the reverse.

The look that the sitter has is piercing and he has rather the air of a genius or at least a man of real distinction; it makes for a great conversation starter, he almost appears ahead of his time and was clearly idiosyncratic.

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.

This chap has got to have been an intriguing character; whether its evil genius, entrepreneur extraordinaire or simply the man about town.