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Portrait of a Man

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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The Latin inscription in the top right corner names the female artist: CATHARINA. FILIA /IOHANNIS DE HEMES/SEN PINGEBAT. 1552. (‘Catharina, daughter of Johannes de Hemessen was painting [it]. 1552.’).

We don't know the sitter’s identity but he was clearly a wealthy man. His belt has gold ornaments and his sword too is golden. He wears gold rings on his fingers – one set with a shield, quartered in red and blue – and another hangs from a chain around his neck. In the mid-sixteenth century it was relatively common for people to wear rings on necklaces, possibly as pledges of affection.

The pose – one hand on the hip and the other grasping the hilt of a sword – seems to have been taken from portraits painted at the Habsburg courts in the 1540s.

The National Gallery, London



Portrait of a Man


possibly 1552


Oil on oak


H 36.2 x W 29.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1878

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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