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Possibly by Bernardino Campi, Portrait of a Musician

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Musician
Artist Possibly by Bernardino Campi
Artist dates 1522 - 1591
Date made 1560s
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 67 × 55.5 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2511
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Musician
Possibly by Bernardino Campi

This unidentified man is standing beside a virginal, which was a very popular household keyboard instrument in sixteenth-century Italy. He is shown half-length holding a pair of steel dividers – used to take measurements – which echo the splayed pose of his fingers against his black costume.

The picture is possibly by Bernardino Campi, who was one of the leading painters in Cremona and portrayed the city’s prominent citizens. It may be that the dividers refer to the musical scale and that the man was a designer of musical instruments, as Cremona was famous for the making of musical instruments. The portrait resembles a dated and inscribed portrait by Campi of Don Prospero Quintavalle (private collection, Italy) of 1556. The costume and style of beard suggest a date in the early 1560s.

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