The Venetian admiral Agostino Barbarigo was killed at the naval battle of Lepanto in October 1571, when he was shot in the left eye by a Turkish arrow. He was immediately proclaimed to be a heroic martyr who had played a central role in achieving victory for the allied Christian fleet. In a posthumous portrait of the admiral, Veronese accordingly showed him in armor, displaying the instrument of his death like a saint with an attribute.
It is easy to imagine that in the years and decades following the battle there was considerable demand among Barbarigo’s family and admirers for replicas of the portrait. This work is believed to be one of those replicas based upon stylistic differences from Veronese and an underdrawing uncharacteristic of the master. The painting was probably executed by a later follower, possibly in the 17th century.
The critical consensus that this is a copy, of inferior quality, of
Burton Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections (Cambridge, MA, 1972), 40, 510, 647; Terisio Pignatti, Veronese (Venice, 1976), 1:135; Fern Rusk Shapley, Catalogue of the Italian Paintings (Washington, DC, 1979), 1:531; W. R. Rearick, The Art of Paolo Veronese (Cambridge, 1988), 108; Terisio Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco, Veronese: Catalogo completo dei dipinti (Florence, 1991), 92; Terisio Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco, Veronese (Milan, 1995), 1:284; John Garton, Grace and Grandeur: The Portraiture of Paolo Veronese (London and Turnhout, 2008), 204; John Garton and Frederick Ilchman, in Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (Boston, 2009), 284 n. 72.
W. R. Rearick, The Art of Paolo Veronese (Cambridge, 1988), 108. Garton expressed sympathy with this view but did not fully subscribe to it. See John Garton, Grace and Grandeur: The Portraiture of Paolo Veronese (London and Turnhout, 2008), 99–100, 203–204.
As confirmed by Jon L. Seydl, curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art; see also John Garton, Grace and Grandeur: The Portraiture of Paolo Veronese (London and Turnhout, 2008), 99. Photographs taken prior to conservation in 1975 (for example, the one reproduced in Remigio Marini, Tutta la pittura di Paolo Veronese [Milan, 1968], 111) show the picture with added strips at both sides and below—with the sitter’s hand included—as well as with repainted clouds in the sky. These additions may, however, have accurately recorded lost areas that were original.
Sotheby’s, New York, Oct. 17, 1997, lot 156, with an attribution to the Circle of Tintoretto. An equally mediocre, full-length derivation at Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck (for which see Francis M. Kelly, “A Problem of Identity,” Connoisseur 87 [April 1931]: 213), employs Veronese’s portrait of the head, but the body is obviously an invention.
The sitter of the Cleveland portrait was convincingly identified as the Venetian admiral Agostino Barbarigo (1516–1571) by Gyorgy Gombosi in 1928 and independently by Francis M. Kelly in 1931.
Gyorgy Gombosi, “Paolo Veronese,” Magyar Müveszeti 10 (1928): 724–728; Francis M. Kelly, “A Problem of Identity,” Connoisseur 87 (April 1931): 207–213. For further details of Barbarigo’s biography, see Aldo Stella, “Barbarigo, Agostino,” in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, ed. Alberto Maria Ghisalberti (Rome, 1964), 6:50–52.
W. R. Rearick, The Art of Paolo Veronese (Cambridge, 1988), 108; John Garton, Grace and Grandeur: The Portraiture of Paolo Veronese (London and Turnhout, 2008), 203.
March 21, 2019
Henry Doetsch [1839-1894], London; (his estate sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 22 and 24-25 June 1895, no. 43, as by Tintoretto); David L. Einstein [1839-1909], London; his son, Lewis D. Einstein [1877-1967]; gift 1957 to NGA.
The relatively coarse fabric support has been lined, and the tacking margins have been removed. The x-radiographs reveal slight cusping only on the left edge, indicating that the painting has been cropped on all four sides, but the left side is probably closest to the original edge of the composition. A vertical seam 7 centimeters from the right edge forms part of the original support. The smaller section of fabric on the right is made up of two pieces of fabric joined with a horizontal seam.
The canvas was prepared with an off-white ground, covered with a transparent brown imprimatura. Infrared reflectography at 1.1 to 2.4 microns
Infrared reflectography was performed with a Santa Barbara Focalplane InSb camera fitted with H, J, and K astronomy filters.
The paint surface has been badly abraded by overcleaning in the past, and the appearance of the picture is also severely compromised by extensive and insensitive retouching of tears in the original canvas.
Peter Humfrey and Joanna Dunn based on the examination reports by Michael Swicklik and Ina Slama
March 21, 2019
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 136, as School of Veronese.
- National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 123, repro., as School of Veronese.
- Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 40, 510, 647.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 364, repro., as School of Veronese.
- Pignatti, Terisio. Veronese. 2 vols. Venice, 1976: 1:135.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: 1:531; 2:pl. 369, as Veronese Studio.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 424, repro.
- Rearick, W. R. The Art of Paolo Veronese, 1528-1588. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Cambridge, 1988: 108.
- Pignatti, Terisio, and Filippo Pedrocco. Veronese: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1991: 92.
- Pignatti, Terisio, and Filippo Pedrocco. Veronese. 2 vols. Milan, 1995: 1:284.
- Garton, John. Grace and Grandeur: The Portraiture of Paolo Veronese. London and Turnhout, 2008: 99, 204.
- Ilchman, Frederick, et al. Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice. Exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Musée du Louvre, Paris. Boston, 2009: 284 n. 72.