Skip to main content
Portrait of a Poet
Palma Vecchio
/

This thoughtful man, probably in his late twenties, is richly dressed in a costume dating from about 1516. He holds a rosary and his hand rests on a book tied with blue ribbons. Round his neck is a type of gold chain worn by the minor nobility.

The book and the laurels behind him suggest that he may have been a poet. The laurel tree was the attribute of Apollo, Roman god of poetry and music, and poets were traditionally crowned with laurel leaves.

It was previously believed that the portrait represents the poet Lodovico Ariosto (1474–1533), who wrote the epic poem Orlando Furioso, published for the first time in 1516. However, Ariosto would have been 41 or 42 in 1516, which seems too old for the man in this painting, and he does not resemble descriptions of Ariosto’s appearance.

Key facts
Artist Palma Vecchio
Artist dates about 1480 - 1528
Full title Portrait of a Poet
Date made about 1516
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from wood, 1857, remounted on wood, 1916
Dimensions 83.8 x 63.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG636
Location in Gallery Room 6
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo