(b. ca. 1460, Milano, d. 1525, Pavia)
Portrait of a Young Manafter 1490
Oil on panel, 31 x 28 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
In the late 15th century, the spread of the use of oils resulted in technical improvements in the quality of materials and in the representation of the fall of light on objects and flesh. The austerity of this portrait of an unidentified young man, similar to the portraits by Antonello da Messina, is emphasized by the dark, almost black colour which surrounds the face, on which all the light falls. The surrounding black is only broken by the line of white of the collar and the lighter line which marks the opening of the sitter's outer garment. The long, carefully groomed hair conforms with late 15th-century fashion, which had moved away from the richness and luxuriousness of clothing of the earlier part of the century towards a much plainer style, possibly in line with the spiritual mood of the times.