Andrea Mantegna - inv. 1592

Titolo: 
Portrait of a Man
Numero di Inventario: 
1592
Tipologia: 
paintings
Collezione: 

Painting

Classe iconografica: 
Portrait
Parole chiave soggetto: 
portrait of a man
Motivo attribuzione: 
bibliography
Autore, ambito, luogo di produzione: 
Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506)
Libri correlati: 
Periodo: 
1450
Datazione specifica: 
1460 c.
Pubblicazione: 
Si
Data di Ingresso: 
1879
Acquisizione: 
Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Tipo di acquisizione: 
bequest
Tipo di collocazione: 
on display
Collocazione: 
Golden Room

This profile portrait is intensely expressive, emphasised by the low raking light that highlights the facial features. The desire to realistically characterise the sitter is particularly evident in the short brushstrokes of the stubble on the man’s chin and in the throbbing veins at his temple. His clothes and headdress suggest that he might be a Venetian magistrate or lawyer, or at any rate of noble birth.

The painting’s value does not only lie in its high quality and fame of the artist, but also in the richness of the materials used. The sober background, which today appears very dark, must not deceive us: originally it was a brilliant light blue obtained from lapis lazuli, which was very expensive. The choice of a profile position makes clear reference to celebratory classical models found in ancient medals, ritualised by Pisanello in the 15th century for the courts of northern Italy.

Despite much wear in the picture surface, it is still possible to perceive the extremely high quality in the painting’s creation and execution, leading to an attribution to an early phase in Andrea Mantegna’s career.

M.B.