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Details & Cataloguing

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Florentine School, circa 1530
PORTRAIT OF DANTE ALIGHIERI (1265-1321), BUST LENGTH, FACING LEFT
inscribed upper center: DANTE
oil on panel, in an enclosed frame
sight: 8 1/2  by 6 in.; 21.6 by 15.3 cm.
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Provenance

Private collection, France. 

Catalogue Note

This small yet powerful portrayal of Dante Alghieri (1265-1321) is a visual testament to the Florentine poet’s enduring reputation.  It dates to the early sixteenth century, when posthumous portraits of this illustrious figure became increasingly popular in his hometown.  Although an attribution for the present lot remains elusive, the refined detail with which it was executed, from the modelling of his expressive face to the individual eyelashes of his contemplative eyes, points to an accomplished and skillful hand of circa 1530. 

Dante proved a popular subject for many of Florence's most esteemed artists, and he can be recognized in various works by his signature red cloak and cap, his long and angular face seen in full or partial profile, his hooked nose, often his laurel wreath, and sometimes a copy of his Divine Comedy.  His sixteenth century likeness arose from an iconographic tradition established by leading artists of generations prior.  For example, he features in Giotto’s Paradise fresco of circa 1332-1337 (Podestà Chapel Palazzo Bargello, Florence)1 in Domenichino di Michelino’s La commedia illumine Firenze of 1456 (Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence),2 and in Sandro Botticelli’s portrayal of the poet in profile from circa 1495 (Private collection).3  A comparable example from the early sixteenth century is Bronzino’s allegorical portrait of Dante of circa 1532-1533 (Private collection, Florence).4

In size and composition, the present work compares closely to two other panels dated to the sixteenth century: one ascribed to the Florentine School, though formerly attributed to Bachiacca (Musée Condé, Chantilly),5 and one ascribed to the Tuscan School, though formerly attributed to Perugino and Vasari (Uffizi Gallery, Florence).6  

 

1.  See S. Bandera Bistoletti, Giotto: Catalogo Completo, Florence 1989, p. 151, cat. no. 41, reproduced.
2. See F. Guerrieri, Domenico di Michelino: Dante, la "Divina Commedia" e Firenze, Florence 2017, reproduced fig. 1.
3.  Oil on canvas, 54.7 by 47.5 cm., Private collection, Geneva.  See R. Lightbown, Sandro Botticelli: Life and Work, New York 1989, p. 261, reproduced plate 106.
4.  See C. Falciani & A. Natali, Bronzino, Florence 2010, reproduced p. 207.
5.  Oil on panel, 19.5 by 16 cm., inv. no. 593.
6.  Oil on panel, 22 by 17 cm., inv. no. P1562. See Gli Uffizi: catalogo generale, Florence 1979, p. 508, reproduced.

 

Master Paintings Evening Sale

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New York