Unknown man of the Van Nierop family

1 portrait

Unknown man of the Van Nierop family, attributed to Isaac Claesz van Swanenburg, 1587 - NPG 1306 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Unknown man of the Van Nierop family

attributed to Isaac Claesz van Swanenburg
oil on panel, 1587
18 1/8 in. x 14 3/8 in. (460 mm x 364 mm)
Purchased, 1901
Primary Collection
NPG 1306


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The picture has recently been identified as a Netherlandish man from the Van Nierop family although his exact identity remains a mystery. The identification was made on the basis of the coat of arms. The two carnations (or pinks) held by the sitter were a popular symbol of love during the sixteenth century. It is possible that this painting may have been created as a commemorative marriage portrait.
Initially this picture was purchased by the National Portrait Gallery as a portrait of the English botanist John Gerard. This identification was based on a superficial resemblance to the engraving of Gerard by Williams Rogers (1598). However, neither the dates in the inscription nor the coat of arms match those of the renowned author of Great Herball, published in 1597.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, Tarnya (introduction) Banville, John (character sketch) Chevalier, Tracy (character sketch) Fellowes, Julian (character sketch) McCall Smith, Alexander (character sketch) Pratchett, Terry (character sketch) Singleton, Sarah (character sketch) Trollope, Joanna (character sketch) Waters, Minette (character sketch), Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from December 2011 - June 2012), p. 53
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 688
  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 127

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top