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Parmigianino, Portrait of a Collector

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Collector
Artist Parmigianino
Artist dates 1503 - 1540
Date made about 1523
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 89.5 × 63.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1977
Inventory number NG6441
Location Room 12
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Collector

An unknown man sits at an inlaid table wearing a large black fur-lined coat and black hat. His eyes do not fix on us but appear to be watching something slightly to our left. He holds the so-called Durazzo Book of Hours by Francesco Marmitta, created about 20 years earlier (now in the Biblioteca Civica Berio, Genoa).

A broken fragment of a pseudo-antique relief of Venus and Cupid with Mars stands in the background. On the table lie a bronze statuette of a woman and four ancient coins. There was considerable interest in ancient coins among collectors in Parma at this time. Three of the coins are bronze sestercii, but the third is made of silver. It is a denarius, struck in Rome in 56 BC, bearing the head of Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome (reigned 642–617 BC). The antique objects surrounding the man reveal his cultured tastes, while the Breviary in his hand attests to his Christian faith.

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