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Portrait of a Man

Ghislandi Vittorio called Fra Galgario

(Bergamo 1655 - 1743)

This canvas depicts the profile of a man painted with great rapidity and skill. It is attributed to Vittorio Ghislandi, a painter from Bergamo known above all as a portraitist whose success is connected to his innate ability to reproduce reality. As in this work, his detailed rendering of faces is the distinguishing characteristic of his oeuvre, which was widely appreciated by both local and foreign patrons.


Object details

Early 18th century
oil on canvas
cm 47 x 30

Salvator Rosa, 56.3 x 38.8 x 4.5 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 39). Purchased by Italian state, 1902.


The provenance of this painting is still unknown. It was only first documented in connection with the Borghese Collection in 1833, when it was described in the Inventario Fidecommissario as a ‘portrait in the style of Titian’.

While Giovanni Piancastelli (1891) accepted this attribution without reservations, it was rejected by Adolfo Venturi, who rightly wrote of the Venetian school. For his part, Roberto Longhi (1928) judged the painting to be ‘a mid-18th-century academic work from Rome’.

Paola della Pergola (1955) was the first critic to suggest the name of Vittorio Ghislandi, the painter from Bergamo known as Fra’ Galgario. In her view, the lively character of the line and unique delicacy of the colour in this portrait show many similarities with the Young Peasant in Milan (Olcese collection) and the Portrait of a Lady in possession of Beltrami, two works attributed to the Lombard friar which are likewise characterised by a rapid, expert execution.

Although no subsequent critics have challenged this attribution, it has not been acknowledged in the most recent publications on the artist. For her part, Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006) reproposed the name of Ghislandi in the image catalogue of the Galleria Borghese.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 21;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 107;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 193;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, pp. 76-77, n. 136;
  • 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. 56.