Portrait of a Man in Armor with Two Pages

Paris Bordon Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 612

Although still unidentified, this high-ranking officer was most likely a member of the Knights Hospitaller, as indicated by his field armor emblazoned with a cross. Two elegantly dressed pages attend to his armor, as if to ready him for battle. One secures his rerebrace over his velvet doublet while the other presents his helmet. Pages often came from high-standing families, so the presence of a Black page poses questions about his status and origins that cannot be answered until the sitter is identified. People of African origin or descent were present in Venice and in the courts of northern Italy, but this is one of the earliest depictions of a Black servant in aristocratic male portraiture.

Portrait of a Man in Armor with Two Pages, Paris Bordon (Italian, Treviso 1500–1571 Venice), Oil on canvas

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