Lot 219
  • 219

Francesco de' Rossi, called Francesco Salviati

70,000 - 90,000 USD
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  • Francesco de' Rossi, called Francesco Salviati
  • Portrait of a gentleman holding a letter
  • inscribed and dated 1554 lower left: DETA-DA/NI XXX-F/NEL-M-D-/LIIII
  • oil on panel


With Frederick Mont, New York.


G. Frizzoni, "La Raccolta Mond ed opere attinenti alla medesima", in Rassegna d'Arte, vol. II, 1911, p. 46; 
L. Mortari, Francesco Salviati, Rome 1992, p. 149, cat. no. 122, reproduced.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting on panel has a visible curve from left to right, but this curve seems to be established and is not unstable. The panel is originally made from two or three pieces of wood; the joins are on the right and left sides of the head of the figure. There are two horizontal reinforcements on the reverse, one at the top and one at the bottom. The paint layer is stable. The work is mostly varnished and is retouched. Under ultraviolet light, it can be seen that the join on the left side has received retouches. Any remaining restorations are not visible under ultraviolet light, but there presumably have been a few added to a few cracks and blemishes in the face. The dark clothing of the figure, his lace collar, the letter in his hand and the remainder of the picture generally seems to be in unusually good condition. If the frame were adjusted to accommodate the curve in the panel, the painting could be hung in its current state.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Francesco de' Rossi took the name Salviati in homage to one of his patrons in Rome, Cardinal Giovanni Salviati (1490-1553). After studying in Florence with Baccio Bandinelli and Andrea del Sarto, Salviati became one of the leading exponents of the new mannerist style which swept over the city. He was a prolific and sought-after portraitist who was much admired. Indeed his fellow painter and chronicler Giorgio Vasari was not shy in his praise for Salviati's work and for his portraits in particular: 

"He gave great beauty and grace to every kind of head...He had a very graceful and delicate manner in painting draperies...and clothing his figures in new fashions of dress; and he showed fancy and variety in head-dresses, foot-wear and every other kind of adornment."1

The sitter, who almost certainly commissioned the portrait, provides us with no clues as to his identity, though he is elegantly dressed and holds a long, but illegible letter in both hands. The inscription in the lower left corner clearly indicates that the picture was executed in 1554, when the the gentleman was thirty years of age. Furthermore, the painting may likely be dated to Salviati's brief, one year sojourn in France, as he is recorded there in 1554 in between a fifteen year stay in Rome.2 

1. G. Vasari, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, trans. G Du C. de Vere, New York 1979, vol. III, p. 1767.
2. L. Mortari, op. cit., p. 104.