This portrait is an excellent example of Justus Suttermans’ (more correctly called Giusto Suttermans, as he signed his name in his letters and as it appeared in the Medici court account books) style of painting in the 1650s, influenced both by the works of Anthony van Dyck that he saw in Genoa in 1649 and by the portrait of Francesco I d’Este by Diego Velázquez that he had a chance to study during his repeated visits to Modena during the following decade. The brilliant brushwork can be compared to the painting in Suttermans’ portrait of Isabella d’Este as Flora owned by the Banca Popolare di Vicenza (see Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato in Palazzo degli Alberti. Le collezioni d’Arte della Cariprato, Milan, 2004, cat. no. 30.). The modeling of the sitter’s fingers is quite similar to the way Suttermans depicted them in the portrait of Isabella’s sister-in-law Laura Martinozzi d’Este sold by Christie’s (London, 30 April 2010, lot 54). A careful analysis of the clothing confirms the date: the wide cut of the sitter’s collar and the split sleeves of his black doublet are quite similar to the ones in a portrait of Cosimo III de’ Medici (1642-1723) painted by Suttermans in 1658 (Florence, Pitti Palace, Galleria Palatina, inv. 1890, no. 2875).
The present portrait comes from the collection of the Florentine dealer and collector Stefano Bardini. It was reproduced in 1912 in Pierre Bautier’s monograph with the caption “Autrefois chez M. Bardini, Florence” (P. Bautier, loc. cit.). It can been seen hanging with other paintings, on a wall of one of the rooms of Bardini’s home in Piazza de’ Mozzi, in a photograph taken around 1890 (F. Scalia and C. Benedictis, loc. cit.). It was given to the Newark Museum of Art in 1953 by Charles Suydam Cutting, a scientist and explorer who was the first Westerner to enter the Forbidden City in Lhasa, Tibet, and a member of the Field Museum of Natural History’s Kelley-Roosevelt Expedition to Eastern Asia. Cutting’s father, Robert Fulton Cutting, had inherited a large family fortune and, in 1895, gave the great Beaux-Arts architect Ernest Flagg his very first domestic commission to create a four-story mansion for his family at 67th Street and Madison Avenue in New York. A photograph from 1901 shows the portrait hanging over the mantelpiece in Cutting’s study.
Although given to the museum as a portrait of Orazio Piccolomini, a member of the illustrious Sienese family, this identification was set aside by William H. Gerdts in 1956, when he announced the donation (W.H. Gerdts, loc. cit.). It can now be confirmed thanks to the inscription on a late 17th-century copy in the Piccolomini palace in Pienza (see L. Martini, in Il Palazzo Piccolomini. Guida al Palazzo e alle sue collezioni, Siena, 2006, pp. 30-32), where the copyist has substituted the sitter’s doublet with a dressing gown. The inscription supplies the sitter’s name, Orazio Piccolomini, and the year of his death in 1678 at age 39: "EX DOMINIS/ ORAT(I)VS PICCOLOMINI THRIAN(A)E AUL(A)E SERENI(SSIMI)/ ETRURIE PRINCIPIS MATHI(A)E MEDICI PR(A)EFECT(I)/ AC EIUSDEM PRIMUS A SECRET(ARI)S OBIIT ANNO DO(MINI)/ 1678 ETATIS SUE 39”. It also specifies that Orazio was prefect, or majordomo, of the household of Prince Mattias de’ Medici and that he had once been the same prince’s secretary (Prince Mattias governed Siena for his brother Ferdinando II de’ Medici from 1644 until his death in 1667). The sitter can thus be identified with Orazio, the son of Carlo Piccolomini of the Salamoneschi branch of the family, who was born on 10 October 1639 and married Virginia Accarigi in 1663. Orazio’s name appears repeatedly in the 18th-century survey of Medici court rolls: he is cited for the first time in 1666 and referred to as majordomo of the Medici palace in Siena from 1669 until his death on 28 October 1678 (Cariche d’onore […], Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Manoscritti 321, pp. 687, 718, 720, 723, 725, 729, 733, 738, 741, 743, 745, 747).
The certainty that this painting portrays Orazio Piccolomini makes it possible to identify it with the portrait of “un Giovane di Casa Piccolomini” [a Young man of the Piccolomini family], described in the daybook of the Wardrobe of the Medici court in Florence. It is cited in the daybook on 7 July 1694, in a list of works of art owned by Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere, which had been sent to Florence by the keeper of the Villa del Poggio Imperiale after the 1692 inventory of her collection there was taken (ASFi, GM 969). The measurements of the canvas, 2 1/8 braccia by 1 braccio and 11 soldi, probably taken within the light of the frame, are compatible with those of the Newark painting. The description of the sitter’s outfit “nero con nastri colorati in cintola”, [black with colored ribbons along the waist], makes a perfect match with the black doublet trimmed with scarlet ribbons worn by Orazio Piccolomini. According to the daybook of the Villa del Poggio Imperiale, the portrait was delivered to the keeper of Palazzo Pitti on 21 May 1692 and had a gold frame that measured 2 4/5 x 2 1/4 braccia (ASFi, GM 975). There can, in short, be few doubts that this portrait comes from Vittoria della Rovere’s collection. It was inherited after her death in 1694 by her younger son Francesco Maria de’ Medici: we can identify it with the “ritratto con cane” [or portrait with a dog] by Giusto, measuring 2 1/6 braccia x 1 braccio and 12 soldi, listed in 1711 in an inventory of the prince’s possessions in Palazzo Pitti (ASFi, CCSGB, serie IV, 654), shortly before most of them were sold to offset the debts he left.
Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato, September 2016