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Philip Hermogenes Calderon

1 of 12 portraits of Philip Hermogenes Calderon

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Philip Hermogenes Calderon

by Unknown artist, possibly by Philip Hermogenes Calderon
Oil on canvas linen glued to board, 1860
10 5/8 in. x 8 1/8 in. (270 mm x 206 mm)
NPG 6498

This portraitback to top

Judging by the line and colour of the sitter’s hair and beard, this unsigned portrait would appear to date from the 1850s or early 1860s, possibly from the mid-’50s when Calderon was still striving for success. Pose, expression and tonal range were perhaps inspired by Velázquez’s self-portraits, [1] in homage to Calderon’s Spanish heritage. A high horizon just touching the top of his head relieves the otherwise dark background.

In all likelihood, this is a self-portrait, executed as a studio exercise. The pose is consistent with a self-portrait, and the depiction of ear and beard accords with a profile view of himself included in Calderon’s On the Quay at Whitby (1861); the work was moreover in family possession until its acquisition by the National Portrait Gallery. A note dated 18 August 1971 attests family tradition that it is ‘either a self-portrait’ or done by the sitter’s artist son W.F. Calderon; [2] the sitter’s hairline is, however, too youthful for the likeness to have been done by the latter, born 1865.

The work is painted onto a fine canvas which has been stuck to thick cardboard. Where the canvas does not quite reach to the edge of the card (along the top edge notably) an infill of dark grey paint is visible. Also visible are some pentimenti above the top of the head and along the cheek, which suggest the pose was altered, having originally been turned more fully to the front.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) For example, two similar head-and-shoulders works by Velázquez in M. de Bellas Artes, Valencia and Uffizi, Florence.
2) NPG RP 6498.

Physical descriptionback to top

Head-and-shoulders, half-profile to right, black hair and thick bushy beard, dark eyes, wearing white collar, red tie, against dark and light grey background.

Conservationback to top

Conserved, 2000.

Provenanceback to top

Family descent to sitter’s granddaughter; her nephew Donald Storey; his daughter Val Storey Buick from whom purchased 1999.

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