(b. 1477, Castelfranco, d. 1510, Venezia)

Portrait of a Youth (Antonio Broccardo?)

Oil on canvas, 73 x 54 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

This beautiful painting is one of the most problematical pictures in the history of art and a constant subject of debate. The identity of the painter is still in question and, while the majority of experts ascribe it to Giorgione, there are a number of scholars who believe it was painted by Giovanni Cariani (an artist much influenced by Giorgione) or by some other Venetian painter active around 1510. Any decision is rendered more difficult by the fact that the painting has come down to us in a very bad condition: the window-opening on the left and the landscape in the background, for example, are so faded that they are scarcely visible to the naked eye. X-ray photographs reveal alterations to both the eyes and the hands, made while the picture was being painted, similar to modifications in other paintings by Giorgione. Certainly there are several features - the extraordinarily fine painterly approach, the intimacy of the expression, the inclusion of the parapet and the window-opening - which support the belief that Portrait of a Man was painted by Giorgione himself, possibly not long before his death in 1510.

The emblems on the parapet - the small hat with a V on it, the female triple head, the tiny tablet and the inscription - have been variously interpreted. One explanation, the most frequent and perhaps the most acceptable, is that this picture is a portrait of the poet Antonio Broccardo.