Victorian Philosopher Painting

Another portrait from ebay. I could only afford it cos it was in such a state. Looks like someone went over it with a mop at some point! But he was such a handsome chap, he was calling out to me so I bought him. I’ve nicknamed him Ichabod…

I tried to find out more by emailing it to the National portrait Gallery, a helpful lady called Erika Ingham sent me the following…

The stamp on the reverse suggests that the canvas was purchased circa 1858-60 before Robert Davis also had premises at number 36.  The man’s casual and rather timeless dress suggests that this may not be a portrait as such, but perhaps a picture of a philosopher – genre pictures were very popular in the 19th century.  The inscription in the book may be a clue; I can’t make it out but ‘ruines’, relating to ruined, could be French or Latin and ‘fin’ also, meaning end or final; the hourglass was also used to symbolise mortality. The style is not distinctive enough to attribute it to a particular artist I’m afraid.  Cleaning may reveal a signature, but otherwise it would be difficult to say who it is by.”

Could the hour glass above the book be a clue? It will just have to remain a mystery!

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