Portrait Of A Scandinavian Nobleman

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An interesting oil on wood depicting a Scandinavian nobleman dressed in an outfit dating to the first half of the 16th-century. It’s painted on to an unusual panel, which has curved over time, and appears different to traditional bevelled panels. With this in mind, we sought advice from Somerset-based master carver, Laurence Beckford, and considered whether it was initially integrated into a panelled wall. Here are Laurence’s thoughts on the piece:

“The joint appears to be a ‘Half Lap Joint’, which shows that it may have originally been a wall panel allowing movement in its width without a gap showing through to the back wall. However, would pine of this thickness have been used as room panelling?

Also, I’m interested to see that there’s a lack of hessian type backing to the joint as I have seen this often on painted wall panels. So maybe it never was room panelling and always intended as a board for painting upon.

The curvature is undoubtedly due to inappropriate selection of pine. The cut is such that it will tend to curve as it’s not quarter cut, the end grain not being vertical. It may have been quite straight if it was held for years into a frame but once removed, it would’ve taken on this curvature.”

So in summary, it’s probable that this work is an early 19th-century portrait that was originally held within a custom wooden frame, and probably based on an early 16th-century painting.

If you can shed any light on this piece, or you recognise the coat of arms, do let us know.

Medium
Oil on panel
Size including frame
25” x 19 ¾” / 63.5cm x 50cm
Year of creation
c. 1800
Condition
Several areas of paint loss and craquelure throughout. Frame with light age-related wear.