Portrait of a Gentleman
Marco Basaiti, Greek, active Italy, Portrait of a Gentleman, ca.1510, Oil on panel; 49.2 x 38.1 cm (19 3/8 x 15 inches), Gift of Manton B. Metcalf 16.235
Private portraits, kept in one’s home, reflected the emergence during the Renaissance of the cult of the individual. The name of this gentleman is unknown but similar settings appear in Marco Basaiti’s portraits of patrons from Cadore, a region of the Veneto known for its lakes and mountains. Wealthy landowners or noblemen were often represented near an open window; the likelihood of this sitter’s privilege is further confirmed by his fine attire. He wears a cloth cap called a berretto over long hair that is rolled at the ends and held in place by a net. A sumptuous black over-gown, or cioppa, is tied at his neck. His appearance is distinguished by a steely gaze, prominent jowls, and full, fleshy lips. No attributes signal his intellectual interests, but a jagged scar on his forehead hints at past engagement in battle.