Portrait of a Man by Parmigianino

The Portrait of a Man is an artwork by Parmigianino (Francesco Mazzola). Its dimensions are 58 x 46 cm. You can see this painting in Room X of the Borghese Gallery. The artwork was inventoried in the Borghese collection in 1693 with the number 198.


There is no information on who this character was, which Freedberg (1950) considered a priest according to his clothing (which, however, could also be that of a gentleman).

It may also be that a mistake was made in transcribing the model’s name. The provenance of the painting, datable to c. 1526, is unknown. It has been attributed to Parmigianino since it was first listed in the inventory in 1693.


The character is portrayed frontally with the gaze turned to the viewer, while the torso is slightly turned to the left. The dark background is brightened in the center by the beam of light that illuminates the face, with a beard and short brown hair, in which the eyes are alive as never before. 

It has not been possible to identify this sitter of mature years, portrayed against a grey-green background. His facial features, however, resemble those of the model used by the artist for the Portrait of a Man with a Book (City Art Gallery, York).

He, too, is wearing a black cap with a rhombic form and a white shirt under his dark mantle.


Dating and attribution have been fluctuating: Carlo Arturo Quintavalle (1948) spoke of Annibale Carracci, while Federico Zeri believed that it was a painting by Niccolò dell’Abate; Copertini (1932) confirmed Parmigianino, referable to the years 1524-1527, moved slightly forward, to the Bolognese period, by Freedberg and still a little later by Rossi (1980).

This last indication was confirmed by Di Giampaolo (1991), who compared its liveliness to that of San Zaccaria in the Madonna of San Zaccaria in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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Author: Parmigianino


Parmigianino is an acclaimed painter of the Italian Mannerists, who too worked in printmaking and Alchemy afterward in life. Born Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, he held his artistic name from his origin in Parma, Italy. He was taken under the care of his uncles, Michele and Pier Ilario, and learned painting from them at a young age. Parmigianino collaborated with them and completed commissions his uncles did not fulfill later in life.

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