19th-Century French School Portrait Of A Young Man With A Patterned Cravat

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A fascinating 19th-century portrait of a young gentleman wearing a dark blue coat, brown trousers, striped waistcoat and patterned day cravat.

His outfit is unusually flamboyant for the 19th-century when young men were often dressing like their fathers. And at first glance, you may think that the portrait dates to the early 20th-century or later. However, the age of the canvas, which has extensive craquelure, old stretcher bars, and considerable darkening, indicates that the portrait is at least 150 years old.

During our research, we’ve discovered only a few examples of young men with patterned cravats from this period. Most of these were French, so perhaps the attitudes were a little more liberal on the continent.

For example, Edgar Degas often wore brightly coloured cravats, as you can see here from his self-portrait in 1858.


So could this young man be an aspiring artist? Or the son of a creative father?

Oil on canvas
Overall size 
20” x 24½” / 51cm x 62cm
Year of creation
c. 1870
Craquelure and extensive losses, although the paint layer does appear to be fairly stable which suggests that the losses are due to abrasions rather than flaking. Small dents in the upper left.