Portrait of a young man with a helmet

WAG 2804


This portrait has a cramped sense of space. It is typical of the artist’s Mannerist style. Figures in Mannerist paintings often have unnatural and elongated features. This is expressed here through the sitter’s long, pointed fingers. The identity of the man is not known. The helmet suggests he is a soldier. The helmet would have been expensive, drawing attention to the sitter’s wealth and status. This is one of the artworks presented by the Liverpool Royal Institution. Liverpool’s economic development grew directly from Britain’s involvement with transatlantic slavery: the kidnapping, enslavement and forced migration of people from West Africa to the Americas and many to the Caribbean. Many members of the Royal Institution made their fortunes directly through the trade or indirectly through the wider economy. This wealth was largely how they were able to bring rare art and treasures, such as this, to the city.