British School, Portrait of an Unknown Man

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Portrait of an Unknown Man
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 72 cm, Overall width: 61 cm
British School
Catalogue Number


The sitter’s identity is unknown. He appears to be a young man in his mid-twenties, presumably a member of, or related to, the Hawkins family. There is a passing resemblance to the sitter in TN28, who is identified here as Christopher Hawkins. However, given the estimated date of the present portrait, sometime in the 1740s, it is unlikely that the sitter here is also Christopher Hawkins, who would then have been in his forties.

The format of the painting, a feigned oval within a rectangle, was well established by the 1740s. The thinly painted head and clothing and the mannered handling, especially round the eyes, suggest a provincial hand. The gold-embroidered tricorn hat tucked under the left arm of the sitter and the small red heart-shaped broach fastened to the shirt connote the status and fashion consciousness of the sitter.

by Martin Postle

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