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Portrait of a Man with Raised Eyebrows

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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An unidentified man regards us with a look of affable irony, his eyebrows raised. His chain mail sleeves and tunic would have been worn beneath plate armour, suggesting that he engages in some form of military activity. Similar costume is worn by noblemen in other portraits by Moroni. The sitter’s reaction to our presence – raising his eyebrows – creates a strong sense of psychological interaction. This expression is unusual in portraiture at this date although Moroni repeated it elsewhere. The feathery brushstrokes in the face, beard and hair bring a liveliness and spontaneity to this small, intimate portrait, and add to the sense that this is a fleeting expression painted rapidly from life. Moroni uses unobtrusive diagonals set up by background shadows and the slope of the shoulders to give emphasis to the sitter’s raised eyebrows and the tilt of his head.

The National Gallery, London



Portrait of a Man with Raised Eyebrows


about 1570-5


Oil on canvas


H 45.7 x W 37.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Layard Bequest, 1916

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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