This wonderfully intimate, and very sensitive portrayal of a young chevalier, bears a striking resemblance to Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales, the ‘lost king’. Clearly drawn from life, and depicting him when a young man of seventeen or eighteen years old, it could be one of the very last portraits that the heir to the British throne would have sat to in his lifetime.
We are very grateful to Dr Yuri Primarosa, author of the recently published monograph of Ottavio Leoni (2017), and Dr Marco Simone Bolzoni, of the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, for endorsing the attribution to the highly accomplished draughtsman Ottavio Leoni (1578 – 1630), who famously executed the only known period likeness of Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio (1571 – 1610). Leoni was one of the most fashionable and successful portraitists in early seventeenth century Rome who served as the president of the Academy of St Luke. In his Lives of the Artists (1642), Giovanni Baglione said of Leoni’s portraits “…they are so natural and alive, that in that genre one could not do better.”