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Italian, North, The Protonotary Giovanni Giuliano (Zuan Zulian)

Key facts
Full title The Protonotary Giovanni Giuliano (Zuan Zulian)
Artist Italian, North
Date made about 1530-40
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 97.5 × 75.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1881
Inventory number NG1105
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Protonotary Giovanni Giuliano (Zuan Zulian)
Italian, North

An elderly man in a lynx-lined jacket looks up from the large book he has been reading. He sits at a table covered with a Mamluk carpet, on which a gilded clock and two letters rest.

The letters are both inscribed identically in Italian: ‘To the most Reverend Monsignor Giuliano with the most honourable (dignified) office of apostolic protonotary directed to Borgo di Ognissanti, Padua.’ Protonotaries attend the pope in his ceremonial duties and witness papal bulls (a type of public decree issued by a pope).

Clocks were relatively rare in sixteenth-century Venetian households. The clock appears to have been an addition as it is painted over a bell. It was probably included simply as a luxury item, although it would also have brought to mind the passing of time. It is rendered with a more palpable sense of its material presence, the pigments built up more carefully, than the rest of the picture; it may have been added by a different artist.

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