(b. 1444, Fermignano, d. 1514, Roma)
Man with a Halbard (detail)c. 1481
Fresco transferred to canvas
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
The fresco together with Man with a Broadsword, and Man-at-Arms come from the old house of the Panigarola family, later owned by the Prinetti, where they decorated the so-called Barons' Hall. Detached and removed to the Brera Gallery in 1901. It is likely that the entire fresco cycle was commissioned by Gottardo Panigarola, Chancellor to Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan. According to Lamazzo, the cycle portrays the most famous men-at-arms of the time; Pietro Suola the Elder, Giorgio Moro da Ficino and Beltrame.
The original placement of the frescoes required the spectator to view them from below. In that position these soldiers appeared to loom up and hang over the spectator, their gigantic forms seeming to emerge from their architectural frames. The firm perspective and luminous clarity of the composition display the artist's desire to deal in absolute abstract form.
Influenced by his background as an architect, Bramante has created here a clearly defined space in which to place his heroic figure. The young soldier, caught as he turns slowly away from the spectator, has been posed so as to highlight the three-dimensionality of the architectonic niche. The halbard (which cannot be seen in this detail) creates an effect of depth, as does the seemingly sculptured drapery on the shoulder.