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Marco Basaiti, Portrait of a Young Man

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Young Man
Artist Marco Basaiti
Artist dates active 1496 - 1530
Date made about 1495-1500
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 36.2 × 27.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2498
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Young Man
Marco Basaiti

This is an early work by the Venetian painter Marco Basaiti. We do not know who this young man is but we can tell his age, origins and social rank from his costume: he wears the black gown and cap worn by citizens and gentlemen over the age of 25 in Venice.

Basaiti has placed him against a vast landscape, partly screened by a bright green cloth – a backdrop often found in Venetian images of the Virgin and Child made for private worship in the home. He is separated from us by a marble ledge, which gives the sense that the man is occupying a particular space: he is behind an object that we can imagine reaching out to touch. By painting his signature on the ledge in grey, to look as though it is carved into the stone, Basaiti has reinforced this illusion.

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