Man Against Flames by Nicholas Hilliard (c. 1588)
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Nicholas Hilliard was to Renaissance English painting what Shakespeare was to Renaissance English plays. The painter had caught his sitter in casual undress, his loose lawn shirt with its wide lace collar as yet untied in front. The young man’s fair hair was short, his mustache and goatee finely trimmed; a ruby cross winked in his ear. His eyes were intelligent and sensitive, his brows lifted high, as if he’d just told some arch jest and wondered whether you were quick enough to follow. With one hand, he held up a trinket hung on a golden chain around his neck. In the background, the flames seemed to flicker and hiss.
—Interred With Their Bones