This is probably the "natural-seeming and very beautiful" portrait of a canon from Pisa Cathedral that the biographer Vasari describes in his Life of Andrea del Sarto. The canon was a close friend of the artist and helped him to secure his last commissions. He is shown holding a small prayer book, or Book of Hours.
[D. Costantini?, Florence, in 1905]; [Wildenstein, New York, in 1915]; Mrs. Morton F. Plant, later Mrs. William Hayward, later Mrs. John E. Rovensky, New York (by 1932–d. 1956; hre estate sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, January 16, 1957, no. 454, as by Andrea del Sarto, to Linsky); Jack and Belle Linsky, New York (1957–his d. 1980); The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, New York (1980–82)
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
F. Mason Perkins. "Miscellanea." Rassegna d'arte 15 (1915), p. 122, ill., attributes this painting to Andrea del Sarto; lists it as part of the Wildenstein collection in New York and states that he saw it in a private home in Florence in 1905; notes similarities with Andrea's portrait of a sculptor in the National Gallery, London.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 19, as by Andrea del Sarto, in the collection Mrs. William Hayward, New York.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 16.
"Coming Auctions." Art News 55 (January 1957), p. 18, ill., mentions the portrait as by Andrea del Sarto and as part of the Rovensky sale at Parke-Bernet.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 10, as by the studio of Andrea del Sarto.
S[ydney]. J. Freedberg. Andrea del Sarto. Cambridge, Mass., 1963, catalogue raisonné vol., p. 229, fig. 169, lists it under attributed paintings; notes its closeness to the work of Santo di Tito and suggests him as a possible author; dates it to the later sixteenth century; states that it was formerly in the Costantini collection.
John Shearman. Andrea del Sarto. Oxford, 1965, vol. 1, p. 105 n. 2, p. 169, as "Portrait of a Scholar"; attributes it to Francesco Salviati and calls it one of his early works, about 1532, to be compared to his Saint Anthony on an altarpiece formerly in Berlin; notes the influence of Sarto in its type and style.
Sydney J. Freedberg. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. May 27, 1983, states that on seeing the painting during restoration he was convinced that it is an autograph work by Andrea of about 1528–30.
Keith Christiansen inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1983–1984. New York, 1984, p. 48, ill., attributes the portrait to Sarto; notes that the simple attire suggests a scholarly or ecclesiastical position for the sitter; suggests that it may be a portrait desribed by Vasari in the Life of Andrea del Sarto as of "a Pisan canon, a very close friend, and the portrait is natural and very beautiful"; suggests a date of 1528–30.
Keith Christiansen inThe Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 38–40, no. 9, ill., suggests that the sitter is a scholar; points out that the figure is less sharply described and the silhouette simpler than other late portraits by Andrea, but on balance accepts that it is by his hand.
Philippe Costamagna. Letter to Keith Christiansen. May 16, 1984, states that he and Anne Fabre attribute the painting to Jacopino del Conte around 1535–37, and that they have shared this view with Federico Zeri who heard it with enthusiasm.
Alessandro Cecchi inAndrea del Sarto, 1486–1530: dipinti e disegni a Firenze. Exh. cat., Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Milan, 1986, pp. 43, 55 n. 17, identifies the sitter of the portrait as a Pisan canon who helped Andrea secure the commission of the altarpiece in Sant'Agnese in Pisa.
Alessandro [Cecchi]. Letter to Keith Christiansen. February 1, 1987, accepts the attribution to Andrea and dates the painting about 1529; states that his presentation of this identification at a conference was accepted by both J. Shearman and F. Zeri.
Alessandro Cecchi inAndrea del Sarto: catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1989, p. 134, no. 66, ill. (color), speculates that the portrait may have been done to thank the canon for his assistance in securing Andrea commissions in Pisa.
Alessandro Cecchi. "Spigolature sulla Committenza Sartesca." Paragone 40 (November 1989), pp. 37–39, 40–41 nn. 30–31, pl. 30, is convinced of the attribution to Andrea del Sarto, probably around 1529; believes that it is the portrait described by Vasari and previously considered lost; states that the costume and hat are definitely ecclesiastic and that the sitter probably holds a book of hours; notes that this canon may have been instrumental for Andrea's late commissions in Pisa.
Philippe Costamagna and Anne Fabre. "Di alcuni problemi della bottega di Andrea del Sarto." Paragone 42 (January 1991), pp. 24–25, pl. 35, attribute the painting to Jacopino del Conte, comparing it to a portrait in the Johnson Collection, Philadelphia, and dating it 1535–38.
The surface texture has been altered by an old transfer from the original wood support, and the green background is thin and riddled with losses. By contrast, cleaning in 1983 has revealed the figure to be in generally good condition, though somewhat less sharply defined than was intended. The shaded areas (especially on the nose and hat) are thin, and there are scattered small losses, the most important of which is on the chin.
Artist: After Andrea del Sarto (Andrea d'Agnolo) (Italian, Florence 1486–1530 Florence)Date: 16th centuryMedium: Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, highlighted with Chinese white of brown paperAccession: 80.3.127On view in:Not on view