Lot 128
  • 128

Alessandro Allori

70,000 - 90,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Alessandro Allori
  • Portrait of a gentleman, three-quarter length, dressed in a black silk doublet and cloak with a blackwork collar and seated at a desk, holding an oval frame
  • oil on panel
  • 46 7/8  by 35 1/8  in.; 119 by 89.2 cm.


Anonymous sale, Milan, Finarte, 4 April 1978, lot 49;
Anonymous sale, Genoa, Cambi Casa d'Aste, 28 May 2009, lot 2498.

Catalogue Note

This commanding and impressive portrait by Alessandro Allori was most likely painted shortly after the artist’s return to his native Florence in 1559, following a sojourn in Rome.1  The painting is accompanied by a 2004 letter of expertise by Carlo Falciani. The identity of the distinguished sitter has yet to be determined, but it seems he was initially accompanied by a standing woman, appearing above his shoulder, upper right.  The outline of the female figure is only faintly perceptible to the naked eye but, viewed under infrared, Allori’s beautiful drawing clearly defines her features and clothing, down to the crimped edge of her partlet.  The purpose of the oval frame is unclear, it is possible that it once displayed a bust image or perhaps a coat-of-arms, that was cancelled out at a later date.  Its original image may have held the key to the sitter’s identity and was clearly of some importance as he gestures toward it with his free hand.

In 1540, at the age of five years, Allori lost his father and was adopted by Agnolo Bronzino who was court painter to the Medici family and dominated the field of portraiture in Florence.  Allori trained in Bronzino’s workshop and his adopted father assisted him in launching his career, introducing him to patrons among the Florentine elite whom would eventually to paint.  The sparse, unembellished background here, painted in an austere palette, is clearly indebted to Bronzino, and the rounded treatment of the face and hands recall that master’s paintings from the 1550s.2  During his time in Rome, Allori studied the work of Michelangelo and sculptures from antiquity and, as a result, the paintings completed upon his return show a deeper understanding of anatomy and solidity of forms.  In this sense the present painting can be compared to Allori’s Portrait of a Young Man Writing in the Museum of Fine Art, Boston (fig. 1; inv. no. 29.786), which similarly dates to between 1560 and 1565.3

1. Written expertise by Carlo Falciani, dated 15 May 2004, a copy of which is available from the department upon request.
2. Ibid.
3. For the Boston picture see S. Lecchini Giovannoni, Alessandro Allori, Turin 1991, p. 304, cat. no. 184, reproduced fig. 419.