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1560 portrait may be the oldest to show a watch.

ART experts think they may have found the world's oldest painting to feature a watch.

Curators at the Science Museum are investigating what is thought to be the 450-year-old portrait of an Italian nobleman, who is holding an intriguing golden timepiece.

The subject is thought to be Cosimo I de Medici, Duke of Florence and Grand Duke of Tuscany, painted by renaissance master Maso da San Friano around 1560.

Horologists at the museum believe the picture "may well be the oldest to show a true watch".

Science Museum curator Rob Skitmore - who is showing off the picture in the attraction's Measuring Time gallery - said the watch was thought to be from southern Germany.

He said: "As Cosimo was a great patron of science and technology, it is entirely likely he would have owned a watch of this kind which he displays here with pride. The picture shows the close linkage between science and art, especially in those days. The left hand shown resting on the head of a hound is also significant, as hunting was another of Cosimo's great passions."

The clue to the painting's identity came when Mr Skitmore realised a seal containing the Medici coat of arms was on the back of the canvas. The museum has sent its findings to renaissance experts at the Uffizi gallery in Florence and is awaiting their comments.


TIME PIECE: Science Museum curator Rob Skitmore, with the Renaissance painting
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 19, 2009
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