SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO
(b. 1485, Venezia, d. 1547, Roma)
Portrait of Ferry Carondelet and his Secretaries1510-12
Oil on panel, 113 x 87 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
This portrait is an outstanding work of its kind. Sebastiano's technical mastery is evident in the elaboration of the forms the naturalness of the figures' poses, their expressions and gestures. The treatment of light is clearly subjective and deliberately dramatic, serving to highlight the principal figure of Carondelet, while his two secretaries on either side are in shadow (one of them barely distinguishable). Behind the figures and also in shadow is a classical-style portico with Corinthian marble columns, a coffered ceiling and in the background a pediment. On the right the depiction of the evening landscape reveals Sebastiano's Venetian origins. The golden-tinted clouds and sky lend this section of the canvas the character almost of an independent landscape.
The text on the sheet of paper which the principal protagonist holds in his hand can be translated as: "To the honourable, loyal and beloved Ferry Carondelet, Archdeacon of Besancon, Imperial Councillor and Commissioner in Rome."