A Favorite: portrait of John the Fearless

A FAVORITE: PORTRAIT OF JOHN THE FEARLESS

John the Fearless (1379-1419) was Duke of Burgundy during the Hundred Years War. The life he led was like so many of the upper crust, then and now: contention, scheming, betrayal, murder, and war. Portraits of such people tend to be muscular and assertive: I’m tough, get it?

Donald Trump c. 2018 [ABC]

Bellini: Giovanni Emo c.1475 [Wikipedia]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certainly, John was a busy player in the years leading up to his assassination. There was his artful dalliance with Henry V of England, his sneaky murder of the rival Duke of OrlĂ©ans, his shifting political alliances, and so on. 

 

John the Fearless    unknown artist    [Wikipedia]

But then we have this portrait. It’s not about an overbearing big shot. Those half-closed eyes, the serious brows, the almost-smile. Also the straight, stiff neck: he’s thoughtful, but alert and disciplined. There is almost a puckish air about it, as if he were contemplating some unspoken, probably not very funny joke — perhaps even a regret.