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Oil Painting - Portrait of Peter du Cane (1741-1823)

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1951P128
Collection:Fine Art Paintings and Sculpture
Date:1763 - 1763

Maker Information

Artist:Anton von Maron - View biography for Anton von Maron
Attributed to (previously):Pompeo Batoni - View biography for Pompeo Batoni


This picture was painted a year before Lord Riverston received his scarlet suit from Paris. It shows the deportment and accessories that were an integral part of gentlemanly behaviour and attire during this period. Peter du Cane, from Braxted Park, Essex, visited Rome in 1763 on his Grand Tour of Italy, and like many British tourists commissioned a splendid portrait from a painter in the city. The Grand Tour was a rite-of-passage in the eighteenth century and an important part of a young man's classical education. Du Cane is represented with appropriate 'props' - a marble bust, guidebooks, a map of Italy and the Colosseum in the background. He is wearing formal, fashionable dress. It is likely that Du Cane had this suit made for him whilst in Italy. Red was a popular colour in Italian male dress of this period, and very similar red suits with gold trimming appear in other Grand Tour portraits.
He is wearing a stock around his neck, which is a folded cloth fastened at the back, and a lace ruffle attached to the front of his shirt, with matching sleeve ruffles. This type of neckcloth had replaced the cravat in the mid-eighteenth century. He has white stockings, and black leather shoes with square buckles and rounded toes, which had replaced square toes as the fashionable shape in the 1720's. His elegant pose reveals the hilt of his dress sword, a traditional symbol of gentility and social status. By this date swords were only worn as part of full dress for formal occasions. He wears a short wig with the hair either tied or placed in a bag at the back, and holds a three-cornered hat in his right hand. This type of hat was an element of male formal dress throughout the eighteenth century. Made from stiff beaver skin or felt they were 'cocked' at the sides and trimmed with braid, lace or feathers to match the suit. Due to the fashion for wearing wigs they were usually carried under one arm. In the 1770's a flat chapeau-bras was created specifically to be carried, rather than worn.

Presented by F F Madan.

Further Information

Production Period:18th century
School/Style:Old Master
Medium:Oil painting.
Material(s):Oil paint

Associated People

Associated Places


Height:2385 mm
Width:1670 mm