ANTONELLO da Messina
(b. ca. 1430, Messina, d 1479, Messina)

Portrait of a Man

c. 1475
Oil on panel, 36 x 25 cm
National Gallery, London

The genre of portraiture was one of the most important and most enduring new developments of the Quattrocento. This portrait is notable for its use of oils; Antonello da Messina was one of the few 15th-century Italian artists who fully mastered this technique (in contrast to Flemish artists, who used oils on a regular basis). Since oil paint dries much more slowly than tempera, it allows the artist more time to execute the work, and also enables the colours to be applied with much greater fluidity and flexibility.