(b. 1655, Bergamo, d. 1743, Bergamo)
Portrait of Giovanni Secco Suardo and his Servant1720s
Oil on canvas
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo
Richness of colour and unfailing mastery of brushstrokes, combined with psychological intensity in capturing character, are the hallmarks of Ghislandi's portraits. In this case the painting also carries moral undertones. Even when relaxing, which can be deduced from the way his clothes are loosened and the fact that he is not wearing a wig, the nobleman maintains his formal, pompously impressive poise. The wise-looking old man may well only be a servant, but his presence provides an alternative type of dignity to that of the count. He counter-balances the social and intellectual claims of the nobleman with a reminder of the common human virtues which need no titles.