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Andrea Solario, Giovanni Cristoforo Longoni

Key facts
Full title Giovanni Cristoforo Longoni
Artist Andrea Solario
Artist dates about 1465 - 1524
Date made 1505
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 79 × 60.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1863
Inventory number NG734
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Giovanni Cristoforo Longoni
Andrea Solario

We know this gentleman’s name – Giovanni Cristoforo Longoni – from the letter he holds, which is addressed to him. His left hand lies flat on the marble parapet before him, drawing attention to his rings, which may indicate his wealth or official status.

The format of the portrait, with its landscape background with a river running through it, was popularised in Italy by the works of southern Netherlandish painter, Hans Memling. But it also reflects the innovations of Leonardo da Vinci, who had spent several years working in Solario’s hometown of Milan, particularly in the sombre and somewhat mysterious landscape with its blue-grey tones.

The Latin inscription on the parapet translates as ‘You know not what sort of person you were or will be; devote much time to an earnest effort to see what sort of person you are’, suggesting the portrait intends to examine Longoni’s image and his soul.

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