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The sitter of this well-preserved portrait remains unidentified; his costume dates from about 1605. The three-quarter-length format, with one hand on the hip and the other either hanging free or holding a glove or sword-hilt, was common for Elizabethan male portraits; some may have been full-lengths, now cut down. This is a late example.
More is known about William Segar's career as a herald than about his work as a painter. One picture, listed in a contemporary inventory, is definitely thought to be by him: the 'Portrait of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex', dated 1590, in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. The Tate Gallery portrait is attributed to Segar because it is similar in style to that work.

August 2004