Portrait of a Man with a Pink

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Hans Memling
1430?-1494
Flanders, 1480-1485.
Oil on panel.
10 3/4 x 15 inches (273 x 381 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1907.
AZ073
Provenance: 
Charles Du Bourg, Perreux, until 1904; Colnaghi's, London; Ernest Gimpel and Nathan Wildenstein, Paris; Rodolphe Kann, Paris 1904-1907; Lord Duveen, Millbank; purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1907; by descent to J.P. Morgan, Jr.
Notes: 

This is one of the finest paintings Morgan acquired for his personal collection. The sitter may have been a member of the Italian merchant colony in the flourishing city of Bruges, where Memling was the leading painter. He was renowned for his skills as a portraitist, and his works were particularly preferred by foreign visitors to the city, who appreciated his meticulous realism. The pink, or carnation, in the young man's hand is a symbol of betrothal, and the letter he holds in the other may be a love letter or marriage contract, suggesting that the painting commemorates an engagement or wedding.
The subject of the portrait may have been a member of the Italian merchant colony living in Bruges. The pink, or carnation, in the young man's hand may be a symbol of betrothal. The painting may therefore be one of a pair of wedding portraits.

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