CURATOR, TIM BATCHELOR: This painting is currently the earliest painting in the Tate collection. NARRATOR: Tim Batchelor is Curator of British Art 1550 to 1750. TIM BATCHELOR: The identity of the man is uncertain, but we can see from the inscriptions on the painting that it was painted in 1545, and that the sitter was aged around twenty-six. The portrait shows the influence of the German painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, who was active in England in 1526 to ’28, and from 1532 till his death in 1543. The painter of this portrait, John Bettes, may have worked with Holbein at the Royal Court of Henry VIII. NARRATOR: But the painting, as we see it today, isn’t exactly as Bettes painted it. TIM BATCHELOR: There has been a dramatic change in the appearance of the picture in that the dull brown background would originally have been vibrant bright blue. But the pigment that was used to paint it, called smalt, has discoloured over time. Smalt is basically a cheaper blue pigment, so the most expensive and the most desirable pigment for blue that would have been used is ultramarine, which is based on lapis lazuli the very expensive mineral. But someone like this man, who isn’t the wealthiest, who doesn’t have the money to have the best pigments, so a cheaper pigment is used, which is smalt. When freshly painted, it would have been blue for quite some time. Then just over time the blue has reacted and discoloured.