PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE EARLS OF WARWICK
inventory number 21 etched into the reverse
Thence by descent.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Italian Art and Britain, 1960, no. 81 (as ascribed to Lorenzo Lotto);
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, on long term loan.
C. W. Spicer, Vitruvius Britannicus. History of Warwick Castle, London 1844, p. 36 (‘Portrait of an Italian; – Titian’), in the Compass Room;
H. T. Cooke, An Historical and Descriptive Guide to Warwick Castle…, Warwick 1847, p. 70, (‘Portrait of an Italian, by Tiziano Vicelli [sic]’), in the Compass Room;
Cooper’s, History of Warwick and Guide to the Castle, illustrated, 1850, p. 99, in the Compass Room;
W. Kendall, Inventory of Warwick Castle, ms. 1853, in the Compass Room;
Anon, Inventory of Warwick Castle, ms. circa 1860, in the Compass Room;
Possibly F. E. Warwick, ‘Warwick Castle’, in The Pall Mall Magazine, vol. XI, January–April 1897, p. 37 (‘A Warrior, in black velvet doublet with wide sleeves, by Moroni’), in the Gilt Drawing room; or p. 40 (‘Duke of Ferrara by Dosso Dossi’), in the Red Sitting Room;
Possibly Anon, Inventory of the contents of Warwick Castle, Ms. 1900 (‘Portrait [Dosso Dossi]’), in the Morning Room;
J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in North Italy..., vol. II, London 1912, p. 217, and note 3 (as Torbido);
R. Longhi, 'Nuovi Ampliamenti', in Opere Complete, V, Officina Ferrarese, Florence 1956, p. 195, under note 13 (as Amico friulano del Dosso);
Italian Art and Britain, exhibition catalogue, London 1960, p. 43, cat. no. 81 (as ascribed to Lotto);
R. Longhi, 'L'Amico friulano del Dosso', in Paragone, XI, 1960, 131, pp. 3–9, reproduced fig. 4 (as Amico friulano del Dosso).
A few details can be put together to give the painting some context: on the basis of the style of the costume, the portrait can be dated to 1515–20 and Longhi reports that the town in the background could possibly be Cividale, in Friuli. However, the monogram, lower left, has yet to be convincingly deciphered and nothing is known about the identity of the proud sitter. The dove (a colomba in Italian), lower right, could be an allusion to the sitter's name, for example if he were called Colombo, but at this stage this remains no more than conjecture. It could, of course, just as well refer to the peaceful times ensured by his heroic soldierly exploits.
Each of the portraits associated with the Amico Friulano is marked by a certain intensity in the sitter's gaze, which is counterbalanced by the the artist's interest in plasticity of form, richly-textured clothing, and in the spirited landscapes beyond. Of the known works linked to the Master, none matches the painterly quality of the present work, nor the sitter's captivating pose and swagger, but the Portrait of a Gentleman in the Harewood Collection provides a useful parallel, as pointed out by Longhi. Strong contrasts between light and dark define the present painting: the beams of light from the leaden sky pick out certain parts of the landscape while other passages remain in penumbra; the fine modelling of the sitter's face is rendered all the more satisfying by the shadow that defines the right cheek bone and the bridge of the nose. Again, it is the play of light which allows the form and texture of the black doublet to be crafted neatly and convincingly despite its quasi-monochrome palette.
The portrait has borne many different attributions over the years, from Titian to Dosso to Lorenzo Lotto, while Federico Zeri classified it as a work by Girolamo Marchesi da Cotignola. The attribution to the Amico Friulano del Dosso is, however, by far the most convincing and has been independently endorsed on the basis of images by Professors Alessandro Ballarin, Peter Humfrey and Marco Tanzi.
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