(b. 1485, Venezia, d. 1547, Roma)

Portrait of a Man

Oil on poplar panel, 115 x 94 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

Sebastiano Luciani was born in Venice, where he worked as the pupil and follower of Giovanni Bellini and later of Giorgione. After 1511 he moved to Rome, where he came under the influence of Raphael and Michelangelo, who were working there at that time, and he gradually abandoned the soft, picturesque Venetian style of his early work to become one of the most important representatives of the School of Rome. He was frequently commissioned to paint portraits of the Roman nobility. In 1531 he was given the sinecure of Piombatore Papale (keeper of the Papal seals) and thereafter called himself Sebastiano del Piombo.

When Portrait of a Man was bought for the Museum in 1895, it was generally believed to be a portrait of the poet Antonio Tebaldeo by Raphael; in the Ducal Gallery of Modena, too, it had been attributed to Raphael. But at the beginning of the twentieth century it was decided that this picture and several other paintings of the same type, also attributed to Raphael, were in fact the work of Sebastiano - the main reason for the decision being the Venetian character of the landscape background. The posture and clothes of the sitter indicate that the portrait was painted in Rome between 1515 and 1520.