Giovanni Battista Moroni (artist)|
Italian, c. 1525 - 1578
Gian Federico Madruzzo, c. 1560
oil on canvas
overall: 201.9 x 116.8 cm (79 1/2 x 46 in.) framed: 237.5 x 153 x 8.4 cm (93 1/2 x 60 1/4 x 3 5/16 in.)
Object 6 of 6
Moroni studied painting with Moretto in Brescia before he settled in nearby Bergamo, where he remained for most of his career. He also seems to have spent some time in Trent. The subject of this portrait is usually identified as Gian Federico Madruzzo, a nephew of the prince-bishop of Trent. The full-length portrait format was relatively new in Italy and perhaps had been inspired by examples from the north. Its imposing formality is especially suited for public portraits, and here the subject wears a diplomat's robes. However, the presence of a small dog, traditionally a symbol of loyalty, suggests this painting may have been intended for a domestic setting.
Moroni's realistic depictions have ensured his reputation as one of the finest portraitists of the sixteenth century. His religious works, however, have usually been viewed as bland reiterations of themes he learned from Moretto. In recent years, scholars have begun to reconsider them in relation to the Council of Trent (1545-1563), which was convened to address the Protestant challenge. Reformers in the Roman Catholic church stressed the role of mental images as a focus for meditation and urged painters to produce religious art that was clear and direct, the sort of explicit image seen, for example, in Moroni's painting Gentleman in Adoration before the Madonna.
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