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 a gaze, which constitute the most intriguing feature of the artwork. It is one of the masterpieces of the artist’s mature period. The Man is dressed in a red tunic and a black cap, typical garments of Venetian patricians. Moreover, the artist spent two years in Venice, where he created this painting. It is located in 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 personal 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 attributed 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.

Recent Studies

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 legible once more, making it conceivable to see 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. It is worth attention not only because of its colors and the talent of the master but also the gaze of the Man, which follows you from different angles.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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Author: Antonello da Messina

Antonello da Messina

Antonello da Messina (1430-1479), or Antonello di Giovanni di Antonio, was an Italian painter from Messina, Sicily, active during the Early Italia Renaissance. His artworks are influenced by Early Netherlandish painting. However, there is no official evidence that he ever traveled beyond Italy. Giorgio Vasari claimed that Antonello da Messina introduced the oil painting into Italy. Nevertheless, his masterpieces influenced painters in northern Italy, especially in Venice.

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