Portrait of a Man
Portrait of a Man is a painting by Antonello da Messina (Antonello di Antonio, Messina c. 1430-1479). It is the oil on panel with dimensions 31 x 25 cm.
Portrait of a Man by Antonello da Messina contains a man with the gaze which constitute the most intriguing feature of the art work. It is one of the masterpieces of the artist’s mature period. The man is dressed in in the red tunic and the black cap that are typical garments of Venetian patricians. Moreover, the artist spent two years of his life in Venice, where he created this painting. It is located in the Room XX in the Borghese Gallery.
A long black hat, the tip of which falls on the sitter’s chest, and a red tunic form part of a typical Venetian costume, which indicates that the portrait was painted during the stay of Antonello da Messina in Venice. It is believed that this happened at the end of 1474, when small-sized private portraits were especially popular. These sculptural features and soft gaze with a discreet smile are typical of portraits of a Sicilian artist.
The artwork is recorded in the collection of Ippolito Aldobrandini in 1611 and, attributing to Antonello da Messina, in Olimpia Aldobrandini’s marriage it moved to the Borghese, in whose inventory of 1790 it is attributed to Giovanni Bellini.
Later studies prohibit both the guess that the man depicted is the patrician Michele Vianello and the plausibility that the work came from Olimpia Aldobrandini’s collection. The recent reclamation made the surface totally leggible once more, making it conceivable to see clearly the fashion of the cap worn by the man.
The Portrait of a Man is one of the most famous artworks by Antonello da Messina, which worth an attention not only because of its colours and talent of the master, but also the gaze of the Man, which follows you from different angles.