Moretto da Brescia (Alessandro Bonvicino) (Italian, Brescian, ca. 14981554)
Oil on canvas; 34 1/4 x 32 in. (87 x 81.3 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1928 (28.79)
The sitter is unknown, but he must have been a member of one of Brescia's notable families. A mature work by Moretto, the portrait was done at the time when he was most drawn to artistic currents in Venice, yet retains certain conventions of Milanese painting, such as the odd vantage point: everything is viewed from slightly below eye level. On the other hand, its formatthe torso wide and parallel to the picture plane, the head turned over the shoulder, the hand wonderfully observed at the lower center of the composition, the curtain and landscape beyondall come from Titian. Like Titian as well is the broadly painted, shimmering silk of the man's clothing. Moretto was also inspired by the remarkable portraits of the Venetian artist Lorenzo Lotto, whose sitters often have a rather inward-looking expression, as does this one, and who hold or are surrounded by objects that have special meaning to them. Here, an hourglass sits on a carpet-covered ledge, and the man grasps a scrolled sheet of paper, the blank side of which faces the viewer. The hourglass no doubt alludes to the passing of time, an allegorical device often employed in sixteenth-century portraiture, but its precise meaning remains elusive.