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Male Portrait

Attributed to Mansueti Giovanni

(Venice 1485 - 1527)

This painting was first mentioned as forming part of the Borghese Collection in 1833. While initially ascribed to Paolo Caliari, known as Veronese, later critics attributed it to Giovanni Mansueti, a student of Giovanni Bellini active in Venice from 1485. It is a half-length portrait of a man in a three-quarter pose against a dark background. Framed by a close-fitting red cap and a broad hat, his face is characterised by a soft chiaroscuro effect, rendered by the painter with great skill.


Object details

Inventory
446
Location
Date
late 15th century
Classification
Period
Medium
oil on panel
Dimensions
25 x 19 cm
Frame

19th-century frame with fillets with small pearl motifs on black ground, 38.6 x 33 x 5 cm

Provenance

Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 30); purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1907 Luigi Bartolucci (support);
  • 1936 Carlo Matteucci.

Commentary

This emotionally and psychologically powerful portrait was first documented in connection with the Borghese Collection in 1833, when the Inventario Fidecommissario paired it with the Portrait of a Prelate (inv. no. 447), ascribing both works to Paolo Veronese. While Giovanni Piancastelli confirmed the attribution in his Note manoscritte (1891), it was rejected by Adolfo Venturi (1893), who wrote more generally of the ‘15th-century Venetian school’, a proposal with which Giulio Cantalamessa (1916) concurred. Building on Venturi’s idea, Cantalamessa suggested the name of Giovanni Mansueti, an artist active in Venice between 1485 and roughly 1526. Yet this theory was rebuffed by both Roberto Longhi (1928), who detected the hand of a more skilled artist, and Aldo de Rinaldis (1939), who proposed ‘a painter of the mainland, close to Marescalco’.

For her part, Paola della Pergola revived Cantalamessa’s idea, again ascribing the painting to Mansueti. Subsequent critics have accepted this name, including Bernard Berenson (1957), Fritz Heinemann (1962) and, more recently, Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006). The present writer also concurs, with the qualification that the attribution must be made with caution, as no other portraits that can be ascribed to Mansueti with certainty have come to light.

Antonio Iommelli




Bibliography
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 55;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 208;
  • G. Cantalamessa, Tre quadretti della Galleria Borghese, in “Bollettino d’Arte”, I, 1916, p. 267;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 221;
  • B. Berenson, Pitture Italiane del Rinascimento, Milano 1936, p. 289;
  • A. De Rinaldis, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1939, p. 56;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 120, n. 215;
  • B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance - Venetian School, London 1957, I, p. 108;
  • F. Heinemann, Giovanni Bellini e i belliniani, Venezia 1962, I, p. 248; II, tav. 732;
  • C. Stefani, in P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 278;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 145.