English School 17th Century
The quality is certainly that of a professional painter who has been asked to provide a reduced oil portrait, rather than a miniaturist turning their hand to oil...
This portrait was previously thought to be by the professional female artist Mary Beale (1633-99) but bears little resemblance to her style of painting. The quality is certainly that of a professional painter who has been asked to provide a reduced oil portrait, rather than a miniaturist turning their hand to oil or a portrait by one of the many Dutch émigré artists making their living in Protestant England at this date. This is borne out by the confident brushstrokes, broad for the scale of the work, and the highly successful modelling of the sitter’s face.
Although it has not been possible to find the sitter in this portrait he looks every inch the young nobleman, his averted gaze creating the impression that he is deep in thought. This type of larger oil on copper portrait was a hybrid – somewhere between a portrait miniature and small oil painting in scale. Although designed to be hung on the wall, they were produced on a more modest and personal scale than the large oils of the period.