Claudio Ridolfi, a painter from Verona, was trained in Venice in the workshop of Paolo Veronese. After the death of the master in 1588, he left Venice, and in 1590 he was already in Urbino. Ridolfi worked extensively for the court, especially in the early years of the 17th Century, and it is interesting to note that although his previous artistic production mainly consisted of religious subjects, at the court of the della Rovere he mostly painted portraits. The account book of the Duke of Urbino lists at least three portraits by Ridolfi of Federico Ubaldo, including the full length portrait at five years of age, holding a falcon, now in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (fig. 1).
A fascinating aspect of this work is the strong evidence of the influence of Federico Barocci's style and technique, with his luminous palette, especially in the pink tonalities in the rendering of the flesh, and freedom of execution characterized by broad brush strokes over delicate layers of paint. Barocci seems to have been one of the first Italian artists to make head studies in oil on paper in preparation for his paintings. The present oil on paper, larger than actual size, must surely have been done in preparation for an official portrait, and it is clearly executed from life, retaining in the quick and lively execution all the naturalistic features and expression of the young child looking directly towards the painter.
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