Sir Thomas Chaloner

1 portrait on display in Room 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sir Thomas Chaloner, by Unknown Flemish artist, 1559 - NPG 2445 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Thomas Chaloner

by Unknown Flemish artist
oil on panel, 1559
28 in. x 21 1/2 in. (711 mm x 546 mm)
Purchased, 1929
Primary Collection
NPG 2445


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This unusual portrait shows Chaloner in contemplation of the brevity of human life. He holds a pair of scales in his right hand which are weighted on the side of the blazing book (a symbol of intellect and learning) against the riches of the world, shown on the other side. He is also clicking the fingers of his left hand to emphasise that life passes as quickly as a finger snap. The Latin inscription refers to Sardanapalus, the legendary exemplum of the vice of intemperance.

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