A Mid-19thC English School Portrait of a Young Gentleman c.1840-60

Origin: Unknown
Period: Early/Mid Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1840-60
The Work: 24.5” wide x 29.5” high
The Whole in Frame: 31.75” wide x 36.5” high x 2.5” deep

The well-realised half-length depiction of a young and dashing gentleman, in oils on canvas laid to board, clad in period dress, being a brass buttoned overcoat and cravatte, presented in contemporary gilt frame, the work surviving from the middle part of the nineteenth century and in un-restored country house condition.

The picture has been left untouched for at least 150 years, there is a commensurate amount of craquelure across the canvas, with extensive cracking to the surface and bubbling also evident as per the photographs. There are some very small areas of paint loss and some losses to the contemporary frame at the bottom.

The level of skill seen in the painting is pretty high, the young gentleman, probably in his late twenties, is depicted with a hint of a smile, having a good head of hair, with dark buttoned woollen overcoat, white collar and cravat. The whites of his eyes are still apparent and are rendered well, and the sitter is less rotund than many seen depicted of the period.

This picture would have hung in a very large and prominent country house, its proportions and quality speak for themselves and it would have been hugely expensive to create at the time of its commission. 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.

Pleasing in its originality, the quality still shining through, and a decorative delight.