Giovanni Battista Moroni depicted the citizens of his native Bergamo with a frankness and faithfulness that was unparalleled by his contemporaries. He is considered one of the great portrait painters of the sixteenth century and, in his own time, even Titian sent him clients. His male subjects are generally deadly serious, their thin lips tight, their eyebrows arched, conscious that they are being studied by the artist. Moroni’s superb draughtsmanship is evident in this portrait where he recorded the distinctive character of his subject with a few strokes of his brush. This extreme economy of detail, where one can see the priming through the thinly applied glazes, and the textured surface of the canvas, is typical of Moroni's last period. It is a masterpiece of psychological penetration and objectivity. Moroni’s portraits are significant because they reflect the ethical values of the Counter-Reformation, which favored truth over idealization. His contribution to the tradition of North Italian realism in painting would find new expression, a generation later, in the young Caravaggio.
- Artist Name: Giovanni Battista Moroni (Italian, c.1525-1578)
- Title: Portrait of an Elderly Man
- Date: c. 1575
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 20 x 16-1/2 in. (50.8 x 41.9 cm)
- Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
- Accession Number: F.1969.29.P
- Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation
Heirs of Pietro Riccardi, possibly by 1824, sold 26 October 1868 to;
Antonio Piccinelli (d. 1891), Seriate (Bergamo), presumably by descent to his nephew;
Giovanni Piccinelli (d. 1913), Seriate (Bergamo), presumably by descent to his son;
Ercole Piccinelli (d. 1954), Seriate (Bergamo).
[Private collection, Italy, ca. 1930].
Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, by descent to;
Lorenzo Papi, Florence, sold 1969 to;
The Norton Simon Foundation.
Fornoni, E., Note biografiche su pittori bergamaschi,
Paccanelli, Rosanna, Giacomo Carrara (1714-1796): e il collezionsimo d'arte a Bergamo, p. 57
Siffredi, G., Bergomum, p. 98
Merten, H., Giovanni Battista Moroni. Des Meisters Gemälde und Zeichnungen, p. 84
Gregori, Mina, Giovan Battista Moroni: tutte le opere, no. 175, fig. 1 pp. 296, 368
Bergomum, illus. LVIII p. 94
Suida, W., Emporium, fig. 8 p. 54
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 28
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 671 p. 325
Piccinelli, A., Postille monoscritte alle 'Vite' del Tassi,
Tassi, F., Vite de'pittori, scultori e architetti bergamaschi, p. 169
Marenzi, Conte Girolamo, Guida di Bergamo, p. 141
Rathgeb, R. Bassi, L'Arte, p. 127
Berenson, Bernard, North Italian Painters of the Renaissance, p. 270
Milesi, Silvana, Moroni e il primo Cinquento bergamasco, p. 35
Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.
Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.
Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.