Portrait of a Young Man

Artist: Antonello da Messina (Antonello di Giovanni d'Antonio) (Italian, Messina ca. 1430–1479 Messina)

Date: ca. 1470

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 10 5/8 x 8 1/8 in. (27 x 20.6 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913

Accession Number: 14.40.645


This haunting portrait was painted in Sicily about 1470–72. Trained in Naples in the Netherlandish technique of oil painting, Antonello set the standard for portraiture when he came to Venice in 1475. Long before Leonardo da’ Vinci, he introduced the incipient smile as an indication of the inner life of the sitter, enveloping his features in a soft light and engaging the viewer with his direct gaze. In these ways, the picture responds to the often voiced view that painting was a mere depiction of the outward appearance of a person.