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.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale