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"Portrait of a Fat Man," by Master of Flémalle (probably Robert Campin, c. 1375-1444)
Click to enlarge.


The sitter probably was Robert de Masmines, a distinguished Burgundian soldier, identifiable on the basis of a drawing now in Arras. The daring white background is calculated to heighten every aspect of the sitter's jowly, stubbly physiognomy, his ducal ties indicated by the court's characteristic short haircut and fur-trimmed robes. (Web Gallery of Art)

Campin was a very early Dutch Northern Renaissance painter whose crisp, almost hyper-realism evokes manuscript illumination. It's interesting that the man being painted was a soldier. We have this somewhat stereotyped view of the military bearing as buff and youthful, but like the mid-seventeenth century Alessandro del Borro, the paintings provide another side to the story.
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