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Giovanni Battista Moroni, The Tailor ('Il Tagliapanni')

Key facts
Full title The Tailor ('Il Tagliapanni')
Artist Giovanni Battista Moroni
Artist dates 1520/4 - 1579
Date made 1565-70
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 99.5 × 77 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1862
Inventory number NG697
Location Room 12
Collection Main Collection
The Tailor ('Il Tagliapanni')
Giovanni Battista Moroni

This is one of Moroni’s most famous paintings. The dress and the style of the painting suggest that he made it late in his career, around 1570.

The cloth merchant or tailor looks up at us, interrupted from his work. His cream and red costume contrasts with the black fabric marked with chalk lines that he is preparing to cut. He wears a sword belt, denoting high status, and his clothes are those of a successful professional rather than an artisan; he may have been a senior officer of a guild, proud to be portrayed at his work. The portrait appears to capture a fleeting moment, like a snapshot, giving it a startling vitality and psychological realism highly unusual for the time.

The immediacy and vividness of this portrait may be partly due to Moroni’s method of painting directly from life without making preliminary drawings.

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