(b. 1455, Verona, d. 1519, Caldiero)

Portrait of an Elderly Man

Tempera on wood, 42 x 30 cm
National Gallery, London

The sitter for this portrait was identified as a member of the patrician Cappello family of Venice, more specifically Giovanni Cappello (d. 1499), a senator and procurator of San Marco from 1466.

The gray-haired patrician is depicted wearing a scarlet gown lined with a fur at the neck, a black stole over his shoulders, and a black cap. The artist successfully juggled the formal elements of portraiture current among his innovative contemporaries working in northern Italy, such as the beautifully described parapet, with its illusionistic cartellino, the forceful projection of the figure against the dark, neutral background, and the volumetric three-quarter view.

There is a black chalk drawing in Vienna, directly related to this portrait. It is more vigorous than the painting and this led to the suggestion by some critics that the drawing was created by Mantegna for Bonsignori's use. However, the drawing is generally believed to be by Bonsignori himself.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.