Lot 10
  • 10

North Italian School, second quarter 16th century

60,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • North Italian School, second quarter 16th century
  • Portrait of a gentleman, half length, dressed in black
  • oil on panel
  • 28 1/4 x 20 3/8 inches
  • 71.8 x 51.8 cm


With Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, London, by 1905–6; 
From whom purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1906 (inv. no. 06.1324).


New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (temporary exhibition), April 1906, no. 17 (as Lorenzo Lotto);
Venice, Palazzo Ducale, Lorenzo Lotto, 1953, no. 89 (as Lotto).


R. Fry, "Some Recent Acquisitions of the Metropolitan Museum, New York", in The Burlington Magazine, May 1906, p. 136, reproduced plate I (as Lotto);
"Principal Accessions", in Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 1, April 1906, p. 73, (as an early work by Lotto);
M.H. Bernath, New York und Boston, Leipzig 1912, p. 82 (as by Lotto);
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, Oxford 1932, p. 310 (as Lotto);
B. Berenson, Pitture italiane del rinascimento, Milan 1936, p. 266 (as Lotto);
H.B. Wehle, The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings, New York 1940, pp. 196–97, reproduced (as Lotto);
A. Banti and A. Boschetto, Lorenzo Lotto, Florence 1953, pp. 109, 137 (as Northern School with Venetian or Friulian influence);
L. Coletti, Lotto, Bergamo 1953, exhibition catalogue, reproduced plate 121a (as Lotto);
P. Zampetti, Mostra di Lorenzo Lotto, exhibition catalogue, Venice 1953, p. 149, cat. no. 89 bis (as North Italian School);
B. Berenson, Lotto,  Milan 1955, p. 138, reproduced plate 284 (as Venetian School);
B. Berenson, Lorenzo Lotto, English edition, New York 1956, p. 103, reproduced plate 284 (as Italian School);
P. Bianconi, Tutta la pittura di Lorenzo Lotto, Milan 1955, p. 77 (as Italian School);
C. Tomkins, Merchants and Masterpieces, The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1970, p. 106 (without reference to the attribution);
B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, Mass. 1972, pp. 234, 527, 605 (as North Italian School, 16th century);
R. Fry and P. Cortissez, in  D. Sutton, Letters of Roger Fry, London 1972, vol. I, pp. 245, 246 and 251, nos. 164, 166 and 173 (as Lorenzo Lotto);
G.M. Canova, in L'opera completa del Lotto, Milan 1975, p. 125, cat. no. 377 (as Brescian School);
F. Zeri and E.E. Gardner, Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Italian School, New York 1986, p. 77, reproduced plate 68, (as North Italian School, second quarter of the 16th century);
K. Baetjer, European Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, By artists born before 1865, A summary catalogue, vol. I, p. 97, reproduced vol. II, p. 122, fig. 06.1324 (as Venetian School, 2nd quarter of the 16th century);
K. Baetjer, European Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, By artists born before 1865, A summary catalogue, New York 1995, p. 105, reproduced p. 106, fig. 06.1324 (as North Italian School, 2nd quarter of the 16th century).


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 panel is visibly dirty. The reverse shows no reinforcements but has been treated with wax. There is a slight curve from left to right. The paint layer is stable and visibly dirty. There are no retouches visible under ultraviolet light, and only thin scratches through both eyes are visible to the naked eye. While there are very often restorations in the darker colors of these pictures, and some old cracks along the top and bottom of the picture have probably received some retouches, there is no reason that this work would not respond very well to cleaning. The beard and some of the details in the eyes may have received strengthening, but this is certainly a convincingly healthy paint layer.
"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

The author of this striking portrait, who has yet to be identified, was a painter of considerable talent.  Indeed, the quality of its execution is so high that for many years following its acquisition by the Metropolitan Museum, the panel was thought to be by the celebrated Venetian artist, Lorenzo Lotto (see Literature).  It was Anna Banti and Antonio Boschetto who first questioned the attribution in 1953, suggesting the portrait to be the work of a painter exposed to the artistic influences prevalent in Venice and Friuli (see Literature).  Since then scholars have been unable to establish the identity of the artist or indeed firmly ascertain his city of origin. 

The portrait is painted in impeccable detail and the artist reproduces the sitter’s face with naturalistic precision, conveying the texture of the beard and soft, wisping curls where it meets the hairline beside his ear.  The face of the sitter here recalls that in the Portrait of a Man with a Viola, at one time also considered to be by Lotto and recorded by Zeri as the work of Giulio Campi.1  The eyes of the viola player are painted in a very similar manner, with a comparably smooth plasticity, and linear treatment of the eyelids and surrounding flesh and the same dark iris and distant gaze.    


1.  Fondazione Federico Zeri Fototeca archive, entry no. 31708.