Vittore Ghislandi, called Fra Galgario - inv. 3532
On the octagonal canvas, an unusual shape for this artist, a young man with a soft sparkling gaze looks towards the spectator with frankness, vivacity and perhaps a touch of irony. With its complex spiral perspective structure, the composition stands out against a monochrome background that gets lighter behind the sitter’s shoulders. The young man is wearing a black wide-brimmed hat decorated with feathers, a white unbuttoned shirt and a red jacket bound at the waist by a blue belt. A yellow-brown cape has slipped from his shoulders. The light reflects on the hatpin, the pearl earring, the heavy gold chain he is holding in his hands, the glass of the wine bottle and, behind that, his white shirt sleeve. This portrait is known as "L’ Allegrezza" [Gaiety] after a poem by an abbot, Giovan Battista Angelici, who accurately described it thus: "(…) un quadro d’una tal bellezza, Che in esso v’è l’essenza del pittore./ Intese far l’idea dell’allegrezza / in sì leggiadra e gaia positura. Che li si vede in faccia la Baldezza" (…) [a painting of such beauty, that the essence of the painter is in it./ It renders the idea of gaiety / in such a fair and joyful pose. That one sees boldness in his face"]. The abbot had begun to write his poem in 1720, so we know for certain that the work was painted before that date. Between the end of the second and the beginning of the third decade Ghislandi painted various portraits of young boys clearly inspired by the same model that he reinterpreted each time, half way between real portrait painting and a sort of "genre" with symbolic overtones. In signing himself a Dominican, Ghislandi refers to the fact that, having become a Minim friar when very young with the name of Fra Vittore. The nickname, he is known by, come from the convent of Galgario (Bergamo) where he retired. M.B.