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Italian, Florentine, 'A Bearded Man', about 1527-8

Key facts
Full title A Bearded Man
Artist Italian, Florentine
Date made about 1527-8
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 63.2 × 50.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1883
Inventory number NG1150
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Bearded Man
Italian, Florentine

We do not know this man’s identity. He wears a black pleated silk doublet with pleated sleeves, and a soft black cap, possibly made of felted wool, with black knotted braids at the edges. His white chemise with ruffled collar and cuffs is tied at the neck with a black ribbon. The costume suggests a date of about 1527–8.

The man holds a folded paper in his right hand. It was not uncommon in portraits of this period to include the sitter’s name on a folded paper, as though they were holding a letter they had just received (for an example in the National Gallery, see Moroni’s Portrait of Canon Ludovico Terzi). However, this paper contains no writing to identify the sitter.

The portrait was formerly believed to be by the Florentine artist Pontormo, or the Venetian painter Lotto. It is damaged by extensive cracking over most parts of the canvas.

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