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John MackenzieEnlarge image

John Mackenzie, c. 1811

William Berczy
German, Canadian, 2 - 1813
oil on paper, mounted on card
31.7 x 24 cm
Purchased 1994
National Gallery of Canada (no. 37353)

"John Mackenzie" is the last portrait painted by William Berczy, and his most personal work. The artist trained as a miniaturist, and the picture's small format is perfectly suited to his talents. Striving invariably for a meticulous finish, Berczy preferred to paint on a rigid surface. In this straightforward composition, the youth is shown in a head-and-shoulders view, turned slightly to the left. The expression is calm, and the gaze frank and direct. Designed to evoke the Scottish origins of the sitter's father, Roderick Mackenzie, the tartan jacket and shawl, together with the tall cockaded feather bonnet, lend the figure remarkable charisma.

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