RAFFAELLO Sanzio
(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Portrait of Tommaso Inghirami

1510-14
Oil on wood, 91 x 61 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

This portrait shows the eminent man of letters and librarian of Pope Leo X with an absorbed expression, in the act of writing. It is assumed that Inghirami worked with Raphael on the program of the Stanza della Segnatura. The portrait is an exceptional work for its fullness of vision and vibrant colours, without being excessively grandiose or dramatic.

There are two extant versions: one in Boston and the other in Palazzo Pitti. Each has been considered the original at one time or another, but the dispute is useless, since both are highly coherent and the differences between them are slight: the physical structure of Inghirami is more massive in the Boston portrait and leaner in the Pitti one. It is accepted by some experts that both versions are the work of Raphael, the Boston version being the earlier from 1512-14.

The red of the clothing dominates both. Inghirami's crossed eyes, a physical defect which the artist does not leave out, acquire a discreet tone which almost dissolves in the inspired pose of the figure. Without idealizing, but also without falling into unpleasant naturalism, Raphael maintains a harmonic equilibrium between realism and dignified celebration, a primary characteristic of portrait painting.