Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I

Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 57. A bearded man, bust-length in profile, wearing a brown coat.

Property from the Collection of J.E. Safra

Gaetano Gandolfi

A bearded man, bust-length in profile, wearing a brown coat

Auction Closed

January 27, 05:11 PM GMT


300,000 - 500,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from the Collection of J.E. Safra

Gaetano Gandolfi

San Matteo della Decima near Bologna 1734 - 1802 Bologna

A bearded man, bust-length in profile, wearing a brown coat

oil on canvas

canvas: 17 1/4 by 13 1/4 in.; 43.8 by 33.7 cm. 

framed: 25 1/2 by 21 5/8 in.; 64.8 by 55 cm.







畫布:17 1/4 x 13 1/4 英寸;43.8 x 33.7 公分

連框:25 1/2 x 21 5/8 英寸;64.8 x 55 公分

Desmond Leslie, Esq., Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 6 December 1972, lot 2;
W. Waddingham, Harrogate;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 6 July 1990, lot 69;
There acquired. 
P. Bagni, I Gandolfi, Affreschi, Dipinti, Bozzetti, Disegni, Bologna 1992, p. 530, cat. no. 499, reproduced in color;
D. Biagi Maino, Gaetano Gandolfi, Turin 1995, p. 350, cat. no. 23, reproduced (as location unknown). 

This sketch of a bearded man is painted with such striking immediacy and naturalism that it seems likely to have been painted from life. Gaetano, together with his brother Ubaldo (1728-1781) and son Mauro (1764-1834), all practiced portraiture, Gaetano and Ubaldo being particularly prolific in the genre. Their head studies had a variety of functions. Some were painted from life and were intended as works of art per se, as is the case for Gaetano's Portrait of Mauro as a boy in a private collection.1 Some heads were given attributes and turned into allegorical figures, such as Gaetano's SpringSummerAutumn and Winter, all in a private collection.2 Other heads were produced as teste di carattere, and though painted from life they are somewhat "romanticized," such as Gaetano's Study of a boy wearing a turban formerly with Colnaghi, London.3 Many heads were painted as studies for figures to be inserted into larger compositions and the figures were therefore painted with a specific pose and location in mind, such as Gaetano's Head of a bearded old man in profile, wearing a turban, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art,4 which is a study for an onlooker at the left side of Gaetano's large Wedding Feast at Cana in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna, of 1775.5

Though this head does not appear to relate to any figure in any of Gaetano's known larger compositions, it is quite conceivable that the sketch was painted and subsequently kept in the studio, with the intention of using it later in one of his multi-figural compositions. The confident handling of paint would suggest that this is a mature work and a comparison with the Los Angeles Head of a bearded old man would suggest a date, on stylistic grounds, in the 1770s.

1.  Bagni 1992, p. 12, cat. no. 8, reproduced in color.

2.  Biagi Maino 1995, p. 367, cat. nos. 85-88, reproduced figs. 99-102.

3.  Bagni 1992, p. 25, cat. no. 21, reproduced in color.

4.  Biagi Maino 1995, p. 370, cat. no. 98, reproduced fig. 117.

5.  Biagi Maino 1995, pp. 370-371, cat. no. 101, reproduced in color plate LXVIII.