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Bernardino Licinio, 'Portrait of Stefano Nani', 1528

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Stefano Nani
Artist Bernardino Licinio
Artist dates before 1491? - after 1549
Date made 1528
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 91.4 × 77 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1890
Inventory number NG1309
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Stefano Nani
Bernardino Licinio

The inscription tells us that this is seventeen-year-old Stefano Nani from Auro painted by Licinio in the year 1528. Auro is a village in the Alps to the north of Brescia in Lombardy, which at the time was ruled by Venice.

Stefano is presented as a pensive young man, gazing dreamily into the distance. Licinio has made Stefano’s clothes fill almost the whole composition to create a sense of his imposing physical presence despite his young age. The grey fur lining of his open black robe is shaped almost as an arrow and the angle of his broadly spread arms directs our attention up in an inverted ‘V’ to his brightly lit oval face against the plain beige background. The pensive mood, restricted palette, plain background and subtle use of light and shade suggest the influence of the Venetian painters Titian and Giorgione.

Stefano Nani went on to become an important senior civil servant in Venice and held the posts of ‘Scrivan delle Rason vecchie’ in 1542 and ‘Scrivan of the Scuola della Trinità’. ‘Scrivan’ translates as ‘Scribe’.

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