PORTRAIT OF AN OFFICER IN ARMOUR - CIRCLE OF WILLIAM DOBSON.
17th century portrait of a gentleman in armour, in a period 'Sunderland' frame. The subject fixes the viewer with a direct and sympathetic gaze which is typical of the baroque movement. He is formally dressed in a breastplate with an extravagant lace stock at his neck, whilst his curly hair tumbles around his shoulders in a naturalistic manner.
The Sunderland is an extraordinary and uniquely British frame style that went out of fashion in the 1680s as more regular or architectural patterns came to dominate. It takes its name from Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, many of whose pictures at Althorp are framed in the style. Fashionable from the 1660s to the 1680s, the auricular, means literally 'of the ear', so this particular frame style is a riotous celebration of fantastic, fleshy, and organic ornament. Just look at the distinctive carving, with a cartouche at the top and mask at the bottom, and also at the way the serrated inner sight edge, breaks into the painted area.
Wiliam Dobson (1611-1646) Dobson was was a portraitist and one of the first notable English painters. Born in London, he was apprenticed to William Peake and is likely also to have had access to the Royal Collection and to have copied works by Titian and Anthony Van Dyck, the court painter of King Charles I of England.
The colour and texture of Dobson's work was influenced by Venetian art, however Van Dyck's style has little apparent influence on Dobson, however when Van Dyck died in 1641, the opportunity arose for him to gain royal commissions from King Charles who had Dobson paint himself, his sons and members of the court. During the English Civil War Dobson was based at the Royalist centre of Oxford and painted many leading Cavaliers. His portrait of the future Charles II As Prince of Wales at the age of around twelve is a notable baroque composition, and perhaps his finest work. He also painted at least the head of Duke of York, as well as portraits of leading Royalists such as Charles Lucas and John Byron, Prince rupert of the Rhine and Prince Maurice.