(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Portrait of Pietro Bembo

c. 1504
Oil on wood, 54 x 69 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

In earlier catalogs the painting was attributed to Bernardo Luini as a portrait of Raphael. Later it was recognised as the portrait of Pietro Bembo, the poet and humanist painted by Raphael when staying at the Court of Urbino. Bembo was later to become cardinal.

The portrait of Pietro Bembo, one of Raphael's earliest portraits, represents his art at the very beginning of the sixteenth century, the period of transition between his early work in the Umbrian style and that of his Florentine period. The youth in red gown and cap is seen against a landscape background depicting the gentle, hilly countryside of Umbria. The hair, hanging in long locks as was the fashion at that time, frames a gentle face; both hands rest on the parapet and in his right hand is a folded sheet of paper. Because of its general resemblance to the early self-portrait in Florence, this picture was for some time thought to be another self-portrait, while some scholars believed it to be the portrait of a young cardinal. Recent research has, however, identified it as the picture once seen by the Venetian Marcantonio Michiel in the studiolo of Pietro Bembo in Padua, representing Bembo in his youth. It was painted by the young Raphael when he met Bembo at the court of Urbino in 1506.