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Portrait of a young gentleman, half-length, in a blue doublet and white shirt, with a black hat

Portrait of a young gentleman, half-length, in a blue doublet and white shirt, with a black hat
oil on panel
28 x 20 ½ in. (71.2 x 52.1 cm.)
(Probably) Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, P.C., K.G. (1694-1773), and by descent at Chesterfield House, London, where recorded in 1815 as 'His own Portrait by Raphael' (loc. cit).
(Possibly) Harold Peto (1854-1933), architect and garden designer, London.
Private collection, Switzerland, by which transferred to
A UK charitable trust; Christie's, London, 7 July 2009, lot 17, where acquired by the present owner.
(Probably) 1815 inventory of Chesterfield House, MS, London, Public Records Office, C112/186 (published in F. Russell, The Burlington Magazine, CXXX, 1988, pp. 629-630), 'Red Room of Breakfast Room', no. 44, as 'His own Portrait by Raphael'.
L. Pagnotta, Giuliano Bugiardini, Milan, 1987, pp. 58, 197, 216-217, no. 58, figs. 58-58a.
C. Gould, 'A Major Attribution to the Young Raphael', Artibus et historiae, XI, no. 23, 1991, pp. 95-101, fig. 1, as Raphael.
L. Pagnotta, 'Due dipinti e un disegno di Giuliano Bugiardini', Antichità viva, XXXI, no. 2, March-April 1992, p. 11.
J. Meyer zur Capellen, Raphael: The Paintings, III, The Roman Portraits, ca. 1508-1520, Landshut, 2008, pp. 200-201, no. X24, illustrated.

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Lot Essay

Given the quality of its execution and the unflinching gaze of its sitter, there is little wonder this superb portrait was long thought to be a self-portrait by Raphael. Since its acquisition in 2009 (Christie’s, London, 7 July 2009, lot 17), the panel has been cleaned, revealing anew its rich palette and luminosity. In particular, the sitter’s unblemished complexion may now clearly be seen to possess a healthy, rose-tinged hue, which acts as the perfect foil to the darkness of his fashionable garments and long hair. The sitter is unquestionably handsome, with a smooth jaw and almond shaped eyes, his demeanor is poised and his expression direct, with one eyebrow faintly raised. Tugging at the strings of his jerkin presents an opportunity to display his graceful fingers, while his other hand seems to rest on the picture’s frame, challenging the boundary between reality and the painted image. As Cecil Gould remarked (loc. cit.), the painting invites comparison with Raphael's famed Portrait of Bindo Altoviti of circa 1515 (fig. 1; National Gallery of Art, Washington), a celebration of the wealthy banker’s beauty and elegance, and with his Portrait of a young man of circa 1503 (fig. 2; Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest), in which the sitter adopts a similar pose. As Gould observed, a variation on the present portrait’s backdrop, consisting of a creased cloth, may also be seen in Raphael’s Julius II of 1511 (National Gallery, London).

Laura Pagnotta was the first to publish our portrait as Giuliano Bugiardini in 1987 (loc. cit.). A native of Florence, Bugiardini trained in Domenico Ghirlandaio’s workshop, although from early on the work of Fra Bartolommeo and Mariotto Albertinelli also influenced him significantly. According to Vasari, Bugiardini was among the artists who accompanied Michelangelo to Rome in 1508 to assist him in the painting of the Sistine Chapel (in addition to working together under Ghirlandaio, the two also appear to have studied antique sculpture together in the Medici Garden). Several of Bugiardini’s compositions reveal his deep appreciation of Raphael’s sense of harmony and rational spirituality, such as his Madonna and Child of circa 1510 (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City) and his Madonna della palma of 1520 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence).

Pagnotta dated the present portrait to circa 1525-30, while reliance on the sitter’s attire enabled Gould to propose a more accurate date of circa 1504-1508. In fact, following his retirement from his position as Keeper and Deputy Director of the National Gallery, Gould sought to revive our portrait’s attribution to Raphael in 1991. In addition to making the stylistic points mentioned above, Gould argued that it might very well correspond to the putative self-portrait recorded in an 1815 inventory of the celebrated collection at Chesterfield House, as 'His own Portrait by Raphael' (loc. cit.). Gould illustrated a Chesterfield seal which had been removed from the reverse of the present lot, identical to the seal on the reverse of the Portrait of a young man in red (now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles), which was attributed to Raphael while in the Chesterfield collection and is now given to the master's circle. Gould thought the present picture may have passed, like the Getty picture, through the collection of the architect Harold Peto, where the latter work had been photographed in 1891.

In 1992, Pagnotta reasserted her attribution to Bugiardini, which was subsequently endorsed by Professor Jürg Meyer zur Capellen, author of Raphael: A Critical Catalogue of His Paintings (2001), and Everett Fahy, both of whom had examined the painting first-hand. Sir John Pope-Hennessy, who studied the present lot in the conservation department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, observed that he had never encountered another Bugiardini 'so evidently innovative [or with] so powerful a presence, and none in which the dress is painted with such boldness' (private correspondence, 15 April 1982).

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