Portrait of an Unknown Man

Image credit: Merchant Adventurers’ Hall

How you can use this image


This image is available to be shared and re-used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (CC BY-NC-ND).

You can reproduce this image for non-commercial purposes and you are not able to change or modify it in any way.

Wherever you reproduce the image you must attribute the original creators (acknowledge the original artist(s) and the person/organisation that took the photograph of the work) and any other rights holders.

Review our guidance pages which explain how you can reuse images, how to credit an image and how to find more images in the public domain or with a Creative Commons licence available.



Add or edit a note on this artwork that only you can see. You can find notes again by going to the ‘Notes’ section of your account.

This is a half-length portrait of an unknown man, facing forwards, thought to have been a benefactor to the Company. It has been speculated that the painting may depict John Kendrick, a merchant, and later a citizen and draper of London in 1624 or William Breary, a merchant adventurer and alderman of York in 1637 who was Governor from 1611–1614 and 1632–1635. He wears a black robe with white cuffs, a ruff, and a black skull cap edged with lace. In his left hand he holds a red book. His right hand rests on a skull. The gold ring on his left hand is inlaid with a carved skull, echoing the real one on which his other hand rests, the ring may have had a merchants mark on the other side of the bezel. In the seventeenth century skulls in portraits symbolised an awareness of mortality.

Merchant Adventurers’ Hall



Portrait of an Unknown Man




oil on wood panel


H 89 x W 69 cm

Accession number


Work type


Art Detective discussions

Through Art Detective, you can help us to discover more about this artwork. Public collections around the country have many more artworks in need of research. Find out how you can get involved.

Merchant Adventurers’ Hall

Fossgate, York, North Yorkshire YO1 9XD England

This venue is open to the public. Not all artworks are on display. If you want to see a particular artwork, please contact the venue.
View venue