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Past Exhibition

Portrait of a Young Man

Painting of a seated man looking over his left shoulder and holding a book

Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1517–18
Oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 22 1/2 in. (72.4 x 57.2 cm)
The National Gallery, London; bought, 1862
© The National Gallery, London

Although this work was long believed to be a self-portrait, the sitter's identity remains uncertain. Scholars have debated the object he holds as the key to his identity, suggesting it is a block of clay or marble (possibly indicating a sculptor), a brick, or a book. Related drawings (Study of a Young Man and Study of a Young Man) show the sitter holding the latter. A common attribute for Renaissance sitters with intellectual and humanist interests, the book may not bring us any closer to who he is. Andrea declares his own identity as the portrait's creator: at left, he includes his monogram, two interlocking As for Andrea d'Agnolo.