CLOUET, Jean
(b. 1485/90, Bruxelles, d. 1541, Paris)

Portrait of a Man Holding a Volume of Petrarch

1530-35
Oil on oak panel, 38 x 33 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

The sitter in this arresting portrait remains unidentified. In his ungloved hand he holds a small volume by the celebrated fourteenth-century Italian poet Petrarch, though the inscription 'Petrarca' is on the back cover of the volume rather than the front. The laces of the binding are undone, as if the man has just stopped reading the volume. The binding is Venetian and is probably a pocket-sized edition of the Rime, either the 1521 or 1533 Aldine editions which carried the title Il Petrarca.