Lot 10
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GERVASIO GATTI | Portrait of Giuliano II Cesarini (1572-1613) with his page

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  • Gervasio Gatti
  • Portrait of Giuliano II Cesarini (1572-1613) with his page 
  • Asking Price: $425,000inscribed lower center: IVLIANVS CAESARINVS / AN AGENS XIV; inscribed with inventory number lower left: G. 46
  • oil on canvas
  • 73 3/4  by 45  5/8  in.; 187.3 by 115.9 cm. 


Genzano di Roma, Palazzo Cesarini;
Sforza-Cesarini Collection;
Thence by descent in the family;
By whom sold, Vienna, Dorotheum, 18 April 2012, lot 615 (as Sofonisba Anguissola);
There acquired. 


Archivio Sforza Cesarini, Rome, typewritten inventory, probably late 19th century, drawn up by Mario Malcangi, no. 98 (as 'no. 98: Ritratto di Giuliano Cesarini a 14 anni - olio su tela di cm 187 x 115.2'). 


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 large double portrait has been restored. If the canvas were tightened slightly on its stretcher, it could be hung in its current condition. The canvas is lined. Retouches are focused on the faces, ruffs and cuffs of both figures, where abrasion has occurred. The ruffs of both figures show extensive restorations. The remainder of the picture is in better condition, although there is other weakness and restoration, particularly in the darker colors of the armor and background. The retouches are well applied, and the work looks well as a result.
"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

This regal portrait of the Roman noble Giuliano II Cesarini (1572-1613) with his page was painted by Gervasio Gatti in 1586, when the young sitter was 14 years old.  Born in 1572, Giuliano was the son of Giovangiorgio (2nd Marquess of Citanova, Montecosaro, Ardea, Genzano, Civita Lavinia) and Clelia Farnese, the beloved and illegitimate daughter of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.  After her husband, Giovangiorgio, died in 1585, Clelia moved to Emilia at the request of her father to marry Marco Pio of Sassuolo, leaving Giuliano under the important guardianship of Cardinal Alessandro, who established a position for the young man and served to support all his interests.  It was Alessandro who probably commissioned this portrait of Giuliano, not only to celebrate his grandson's new title of Duke, conferred upon him in 1585 by Pope Sixtus V (Dukedom of Civitanova nella Marche), but also to highlight his aristocratic prestige for the family of his betrothed, Livia Orsini.  This portrait remained in the Cesarini family for generations, as the inventory number in the lower left corner, G-46, likely refers to the 18th-century inventory of the Cesarini family, with the G standing for the family’s residence in Genzano.1 In the present portrait, the newly-exalted Giuliano is rendered in a powerful stately pose, wearing fashionable clothing and intricately detailed armour fashioned in the style of Pompeo della Cesa, a Milanese armourer active from 1570-1580.  He stands upon a raised ledge in front of a thick green fabric and beside a richly draped table, with his left arm akimbo and his right arm resting on a helmet set before a heraldic crest with a plume of colorful feathers.  His restrained countenance and stable posture provide a pleasing contrast to his lively page at right who engages the audience with a cheeky and slightly mischievous grin as he reaches for his master’s sword—a lighthearted detail in an otherwise very formal and stately scene. 

Gervasio Gatti was a contemporary of Sofonisba Anguissola.  The two artists trained closely in the workshop of his uncle, Bernardino Gatti, known as Sojaro. Gervasio worked alongside his uncle on commissions for the Farnese court in Parma, and by 1585 had already established himself as a renowned portraitist within this realm.2 Gervasio’s portraits, which were stylistically influenced by his uncle as well as the Habsburg portraits from the courts in Spain such as those by Anthonis Mor, are notable for the porcelain texture of the faces, the gracefully rendered features, the attention to fine details in costume and armor, and the stately poses and expressions, all of which combine here for an impressive image that belies the sitter's young age. 

Although portraits by Gervasio are relatively rare today, this work shares compositional and stylistic similarities with other paintings by Gatti dated to the 1590s, including a Portrait of a Noblewoman, first discovered by Marco Tanzi in 2001, as well as Three boys Playing Backgammon and a Little Girl with Dog today in the Borromeo Collection at Isola Madre, in which the young figures closely recall the page in the present work.3

The present work can also be closely compared to another portrait by Gervasio Gatti, historically considered to be a likeness of Ranuccio I Farnese (1569-1622), who was a cousin of Giuliano.  Although the identity of the sitter of the other portrait remains under discussion, documents confirm that Gervasio Gatti did paint in Parma a portrait of Ranuccio in the same year as the present example.  It remains to be determined if Giuliano, who lived most of his life in Rome and in Lazio on estates belonging to his late father’s family, travelled to Parma for this portrait.  It seems quite plausible, though, that while under the guardianship of his grandfather, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, Giuliano was sent to the Farnese family’s seat in Parma to have this important and monumental portrait completed.   

1 An inventory drawn up Mario Malcangi at the end of the nineteenth century lists at 'no. 98: Portrait of Giuliano Cesarini, aged 14 – oil on canvas, 187 by 115.2.'  

2 In his Cremona Fedelissima, Antonio Campi describes Gervasio’s 'grace In portraying from life' as the hand responsible for portraits of “Lords, Princes, and Gentlemen.  Furthermore, his position within the Farnese Court was further confirmed in Giovanni Zaist’s biography on Gervasio Gatti written in 1774. 

3 See F. Frange and A. Morandotti (eds), Il ritratto in Lombardia da Moroni a Ceruti, exh. cat. , Milan 2002, p. 59, reproduced fig. 3.