The Life of Nicholas Colthurst by Sarah Singleton

Nicholas Colthurst: scholar, swordsman and sometime privateer; a composer and musician – a player of games. The portrait was painted in 1601 when Colthurst was forty years old and at the height of his career. He is a striking, handsome man with a waxed moustache. His face expresses a guarded intelligence, confidence and ambition, but he is also something of a dandy. A pleasing jauntiness colours his calculating, masterful air.

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Eight internationally acclaimed authors have invented imaginary biographies and character sketches based on fourteen unidentified portraits. Who are these men and women, why were they painted, and why do they now find themselves in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery? With fictional letters, diaries, mini-biographies and memoirs, Imagined Lives creates vivid stories about these unknown sitters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.