European Art: 14th-16th Centuries

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Portrait of a Young Man, 16th century

School of Bergamo

Italian, 16th century
Oil on canvas
34-1/2 x 26-1/2 in. (87.6 x 67.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1968.11.01.P

On view

This arresting half-length portrait of a young man holds great interest with regards to the identity of the sitter. Historians have suggested an artist who was trained in Bergamo (North Italy) or possibly Florence. The sitter is smartly dressed in a black doublet with red slashing, and a millstone ruff collar, expensive fashion accoutrements generally worn by the wealthy. The highly formal presentation is tempered somewhat by the closely observed features, specifically the attention to the subject’s nervous eyes, carefully drawn lips, and light mustache. This, along with his slightly tousled hair, imparts the sense that we are looking at a real individual as opposed to the idealized image of a young nobleman. It also suggests that the unknown artist was aware of the portrait traditions Northern Italy and Northern Europe.

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