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William Burton Conyngham, a young Irish aristocrat, likely commissioned this pastel portrait as a souvenir of his Grand Tour. Though Conyngham is depicted as a distinguished gentleman, his open and eager expression conveys a sense of spontaneity appropriate to his youth. The artist, Anton Raphael Mengs, was renowned for his ability to achieve in pastels the effect of the strong saturated colors and highlights characteristic of oil painting. This is evident in the luxurious velvet cloak, which is cut off at the picture's edge to emphasize its volume and richness. The light reflecting on Conyngham's nose and lips and the wet appearance of the eyes further mimics the effect of oil paint.

Learn more about this pastel and similar works in Eighteenth-Century Pastel Portraits on Google Arts & Culture.

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