There seems to be no good reason to doubt van Dyck's authorship of the present lot despite its omission from the catalogue raisonné of van Dyck's work (S. Barnes et al., Van Dyck. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven & London 2004). Professor Hans Vlieghe has recently confirmed the attribution on the basis of photographs.
The handling of the present picture has a Titianesque softness that suggests the work dates from van Dyck's stay in Italy, from the end of 1621 to the early summer of 1627. Although this portrayal does not perhaps equal van Dyck's most outstanding depiction of a military commander painted during these years - the portrait of Emanuel Philibert of Savoy at Dulwich (Barnes et al., no. II.60), the lively treatment of the colour is reminiscent of the Portrait of George Gage with two attendants in the National Gallery, London, and the soft handling of the face brings to mind the Hermitage Self Portrait (Barnes et al., nos. II.43 and 26). The vigorous treatment of the reflection of light on the armour suggests that van Dyck would have been emulating Titian, already then the most admired of artists.
Although unusual, portraits in profile were occasionally commissioned, most famously by François I of France from Titian. Titian's portrait of Doge Nicolò Marcello showed both the head and body in profile, a formula most notoriously employed for the depiction of Pope Paul III and his grandsons Ottavio and Cardinal Farnese at Capodimonte. Van Dyck first employed the device for one of the companions in the Gage portrait, and most strikingly in the Genoese Nobleman and her Son (Barnes, et al., no. II.74) in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Alfred Morrison, M.P. (1821-1887) was an outstanding collector of autograph letters and documents. He was also an active picture buyer, with a particular interest in portraits of historic and literary figures.