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I first came across this romantic portrait on the internet and knew he had to be part of my imaginative life. In my novel, The Marriage Season, my first in a series for Boldwood Books, this handsome blade is the embodiment of my young hero, Freddie Lynwood, whom we first meet when he falls out of a tree and breaks a leg. My main female lead, Sybella Lovatt, administers the brandy during a painful manipulation of his broken tibia to position it properly for setting. This is the first time she really looks at Lord Lynwood: ‘She looked down on Freddie’s face. He was less pale and his eyes were open and feverish-bright. He was astonishingly good-looking, with his inky dark curls and an expression that seemed to combine a brooding moodiness round his mouth and a mischievous brilliance of eye.’ Needless to say, this is not the last we see of the dashing and reckless Freddie Lynwood.

I was so intrigued by who the artist and sitter of this fabulous portrait may have been I attempted to track down the painting’s physical home and any information about it. After a few false leads eventually I discovered it hung in the Springfield Museums in Massachusetts in the USA. It is described as a portrait of the 1800s which initially was thought to be by Eugène Delacroix, the leader of the French Romantic Movement. There was some suggestion the sitter was his close friend, the painter Baron von Schwiter, a handsome man with a sensitive face, but he wasn’t born until 1805 and the dates did not quite match.

Of course, I longed to own this painting but as second-best have had a photograph of it printed on canvas, framed in ebullient gold and hung on my wall, to gaze at when I need inspiration. I have a theory that there can be no man outside one’s imagination as beautiful as this dandy in yellow (apart, perhaps, from the young Rupert Everett!) and so the painting has to be a self-portrait, where art has been used to burnish nature. There’s even an indication of a palette and brush in the lower right hand corner. We can but wonder, but the beauty and mystery of the sitter continues to intrigue and reward anyone who sees him immortalised in this virtuosic portrait, and his fictional character lives on in my novel The Marriage Season, to be published January 26th 2023.

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