(Genoa 1581/82 - Venice 1644)
Portrait of gentleman
Oil on canvas, 64 x 46 cm
Milan, Giorgio Baratti Collection
The original painting is attributed to the painter Bernardo Strozzi (1582/82-1644) from Genoa, whose chapter on portraiture is a subject that has been studied in depth only relatively recently by critics.
The layout of the half-bust portrait is part of one of the standard types used by il Cappuccino to depict his characters: full-length in the most important cases with an approach that takes into account international portraiture (including Titian and Tintoretto), but also of the novelties brought by Van Dyck to Genoa after 1621 (see for example the Venetian Magistrate otherwise known as Doge Pallavicino); three-quarters with the character sitting or standing, for other depictions of an official type, for which the same references apply (see the well-known series of Raggi portraits exhibited at The Age of Rubens exhibition of 2004 or The doge Francesco Erizzo today in Vienna); finally, the half-bust portrait such as this one, whose tone is generally more colloquial and friendly, so much so as to lead us to think that it was intended for people with whom the painter had a direct personal relationship and that they might not necessarily be made on commission but as a tribute from the painter to a friend. An emblematic case to this effect is the Capuchin Friar, which is also painted on an abnormal support, cardboard, and probably made when the painter was still in the convent (brought to this writer’s attention: cfr. A. Orlando, Pietro Bellotti e dintorni, Milano 2007, cat. 8).
This work is indicative for understanding how, in these cases, Strozzi aims at depicting the naturalness and the likeness of the subject, without enriching the composition with further details which, in the case of Capuchin Friar, are totally non-existent, with the monastic garment and the background barely touched upon. In the case of our portrait these details are painted yes, but without the same attention that the painter gives to the face and hair. The latter, a real demonstration of skill that only a great master can do, is done by distinguishing, but at the same time blending, the hair with dark background. A similarity can be found with the Portrait of a Gentleman held in the Carpio collection that I recently studied (for Carlo Orsi, 2015).
(From Anna Orlando’s historical and critical board) Bibliography: unpublished
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