The Collection

Man in a Skull Cap Aged 59 in 1608

Robert Peake

Man in a Skull Cap Aged 59 in 1608


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ArtistRobert Peake (1551-1619)
TitleMan in a Skull Cap Aged 59 in 1608
Date1608
MediumOil on panel
ProvenanceCollection of the British Museum; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in 1946
ExhibitionOn display in the Long (or Mineral) Gallery, British Museum, London, in 1839; on display in the Gallery of Portraits, British Museum, London, in 1852
Dimensionsheight: 58.00 cm, width: 45.00 cm
Inscriptiontr: AEtatis Suae?. 59: / 1608.
AcquisitionPurchased from the British Museum, June 1946.
LocationUK, London, Government Art Collection
GAC number16
 

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This portrait gives no indication of the profession of the sitter. Portraits of the early 17th century often include objects or elaborate clothing referring to the sitter’s profession and status. It has been suggested that the lack of any such devices might indicate that this is a self-portrait of the artist himself; a theory reinforced by the inscription. The lettering at the top right reads: ‘Ætatis Suæ. 59 [aged 59]: 1608.’ which is about the age Peake would have been at that time.

Although the face of the sitter is expertly painted and survives in good condition, the painting of his ruff is poor. This is probably the result of damage to the work some time before it entered the Government Art Collection. It seems that an abrasive treatment was carried out on this part of the painting in an attempt to clean the area. The folds of the ruff have been roughly over-painted, following the damage.

This painting is one of 16 portraits purchased from the British Museum in June 1946 by the Ministry of Works (formerly responsible for the Government Collection). The portraits, ranging in date from the 16th to the 18th centuries, were purchased for the nominal sum of £1 each.

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This work contains the following subjects; choose a subject below to cross-refer to other works in the collection:

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This work contains the following Sitters; choose a link below to cross-refer to other works in the collection:

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Robert Peake

Robert Peake came from a Lincolnshire family and was apprenticed to a London goldsmith in 1565. He worked as a decorative painter at the court of Elizabeth I in 1576 and was appointed Serjeant Painter to James I after his accession in 1607, a post he shared with John de Critz (c.1552-1642), an example of whose work can be found in the Drawing Room. Peake was official artist to Henry, Prince of Wales. Other examples of his portraits of the Prince are in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Royal Collection, Windsor.