Lombard painter 18th century - inv. 184
This is a modest portrait of Abbot Giovanni Maria Pezzoli, one of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli’s ancestors; he was in fact brother of Margherita Pezzoli, the Museum founder’s grandmother. Little is known about the chronological details of the abbot’s life, but we do know that he was dead by 1818 and that he had been a man of letters. He created a large library, mostly of religious works, that Gian Giacomo inherited, and is now part of the Museum. It still has to be established whether important Italian, Latin and Greek works of literature and rare sixteenth-century Aldine editions in the library were or not in the abbot’s collection.
The man’s cloak and black cap are typical ecclesiastical garments worn at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the next. The white lace emerging from the sleeves enlivens the picture and reveals the elevated social standing of the sitter, as does his stately pose with hand tucked into his jacket. Stylistically, the work refers to official portrait painting in Lombardy at the end of the eighteenth century, while the rather rigid and mannered execution and the sitter’s fixed gaze suggest a minor master.