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Moretto da Brescia, Portrait of a Young Man

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Count Fortunato Martinengo
Artist Moretto da Brescia
Artist dates about 1498 - 1554
Date made about 1540-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 114 × 94.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1858
Inventory number NG299
Location Room 12
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Young Man
Moretto da Brescia

This lavishly dressed sitter, wearing a coat lined with lynx or snow leopard fur, is the Brescian nobleman and humanist Fortunato Martinengo (1512–1552). Ancient gold and silver coins and a bronze oil lamp in the shape of a foot on the table allude to his scholarly interests, and perhaps also to a pilgrimage to Jersualem that he planned to make. His pose, with his head resting on his hand, is associated with melancholy. The inscription in Greek on his cap means: ‘Alas, I yearn too much.’ It is unclear whether he longs for knowledge, for a person, or for the pilgrimage.

The portrait can be dated by the clothing to around 1540–5, when the sitter was around 30 years old. It may have been commissioned by Fortunato or his brothers as a memento before he undertook the dangerous journey to the Holy Land in 1541. In 1542 he married Livia, daughter of Count Nicolo d'Arco.

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