Lot 9
  • 9

Jacopo da Valenza

250,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jacopo da Valenza
  • Portrait of a young man, bust length, in a red cap
  • oil on panel


Alessandro Castellani collection, Rome;
His deceased sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, 12-16 May 1884, lot 463 (as Italian School, 15th century);
There purchased by Symond for 4,500 francs;
Édouard Aynard, Lyon;
His sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, 8-11 December 1913, lot 49;
With Galerie Gismondi, Paris, by 1986;
From whom acquired by the present collector, circa 1987.


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. The restoration to this work is good. While the varnish seems to be slightly sprayed and could be improved, the retouches that exist are good. There is restoration in his hair, but the background, his hat and almost all of his face seem to be in very good condition. There is one vertical crack or join in the panel running through the center of the picture down the cheek of the figure.
"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

Federico Zeri first ascribed this arresting portrait to Jacopo Valenza in 1989 when the painting was with Galerie Gismondi, Paris and dated it to the end of the Quattrocento.1  Very little biographical detail regarding the life of Jacopo da Valenza exists today, though it seems he was active in a number of cities in the Veneto, including Serravalle, Belluno and Feltre, between circa 1485 and 1509.  The earliest work that can be concretely attributed to the artist is a signed, bust length Madonna and Child, formerly in the collection of Marino Pagani, Belluno, dated 1485.2  A year earlier, in 1484, Nicolò Trevisan, Bishop of Ceneda, endowed an altar for the cathedral at Ceneda for which Jacopo executed the Madonna and Child with Saints Sebastian and Anthony and Bishop Nicolò Trevisan, which therefore likely slightly predates the Pagani Madonna.3

Jacopo most likely trained in the Venetian workshop of Bartolomeo and Alvise Vivarini and his work remained indebted to their distinctive style throughout his career.  We see Alvise Vivarini’s influence here in the sharply, linear drawing of the features, the incisive definition of the eyes and lips.  It is notable too in the representation of the sitter’s cool flesh; despite the intense plasticity employed by the artist, the result is not wooden or stiff but has a liveliness to its shadows and molding. 

The hairstyle of the sitter, who has yet to be identified, can assist in a dating of the painting.  He wears his hair long, to the shoulders, with a slight wave, and a straight, manicured fringe at eyebrow level, a fashion popular among young men in Venice in the mid-1490s.  By the early 1500s, however, the short fringe and waved hair had been abandoned in favor of straight locks, cleared from the forehead and parted at the center.4  We can therefore assume that the present painting dates before the turn of the 16th century.  The sitter must be under the age of twenty-five as he wears a red cap and blue zupon or jacket, and has not yet adopted the toga and bareta, the official black gown and cap that was obligatory garb for male citizens over that age.


1.  Note dated 28 July 1989, Federico Zeri Fototeca archive, entry no. 25295.
2.  M. De Grassi, Una Madonna con il Bambino di J. da V. ritrovata, in Arte veneta, LVII (2000), 2, pp. 62-66.
3.  G. Tagliaferro, “Jacopo da Valenza”, in Treccani Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 62, 2004, online edition.  
4.  S.M. Newton, Dress of the Venetians, 1495-1525, Aldershot 1988, pp. 33-34.