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Girolamo di Benvenuto (Siena 1470-1524)
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Girolamo di Benvenuto (Siena 1470-1524)

Portrait of a young man, half-length, in a blue doublet and hat and a black jacket

Details
Girolamo di Benvenuto (Siena 1470-1524)
Portrait of a young man, half-length, in a blue doublet and hat and a black jacket
oil on panel, marouflaged
21¼ x 15 5/8 in. (53.9 x 39.7 cm.), with additions of 1½ in. (3.8 cm.) to the upper and 2½ in. (6.4 cm.) to the left edge
Provenance
Chancellor Konrad Adenauer; his sale, Christie's, London, 26 June 1970, lot 26.
Literature
E. Buchner, 'Ein Junglingsbildnis von Girolamo di Benvenuto', in Festschrift Friedrich Winkler, Berlin, 1959, pp. 167-70.
F.R. Shapley, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, Italian Paintings, XIII-XV Century, London, 1966, p. 163.
F.R. Shapley, Catalogue of the Italian Paintings, Washington, 1979, I, p. 225.
D.A. Brown, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art, Systematic Catalogue, Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century, Washington, 2003, pp. 338, figs. 1 and 340.
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Clemency Henty
Clemency Henty

Lot Essay

This is one of just a handful of extant Sienese Renaissance portraits. It was correctly attributed by Buchner to Girolamo di Benvenuto, son and artistic heir of the late quattrocento master Benvenuto di Giovanni. Like his father, and indeed every successful Sienese master of their time, Girolamo specialised in religious pictures. But he clearly relished the challenge of secular commissions as the inventive character of his few deschi da parto (marriage salvers) demonstrates, and had an equally personal approach to portraiture. Girolamo's best-known portrait is that of a Young Woman at Washington (no. 1939.I.353), which David Alan Brown dates about 1508. Shapley suggested that the sitter in that work might be the sister of the subject of this panel. The panels are indeed comparable in size, that at Washington measuring 60 by 45 cm., and, as Brown observes, 'are similar in composition, with the sitters shown waist length, turned slightly to the left with one or both hands visible, against a dark background.' But, as Brown also notes, the two do not convince as pendants, and moreover, this picture lacks the gilded border of that at Washington, which admittedly does not appear in Morgen's engraving after this, published in 1819-20 (Brown, p. 338, fig. 2). So it is more likely that the similarities of the two reflect the consistency of the artist's subtler, yet rarely expressed, approach to portraiture.

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