Antologia di Pittura Emiliana dal XVI al XVIII Secolo, Bologna, Palazzo Davia Bargellini, 5th November- 27th November 1988, n. 7
L’Inquietudine del volto da Lotto a Freud, da Tiziano a De Chirico, Lodi, Bipielle Center, 11th November 2005 - 12th March 2006, n. 5
Detailed Description :
The sitter is depicted holding a coin – probably a Roman sesterce with the image of Nero – presenting it to the viewer with his right hand, while grasping a letter with his left. To his side stands a table, covered in a dark pink cloth, displaying books, antique coins – one of which seemingly features the image of the Roman Eagle or Aquila – as well as marble and bronze sculptures. Amongst the objects, some of which are fragmented, there is an expressive head of a balding man, reminiscent of a Roman philosopher. Just behind it, there is a large female torso and further towards the back, a head of a goddess, represented in profile. The sitter is undoubtedly a collector of roman antiquities and numismatics, a developed trend of the cultural climate of the Cinquecento.
Previously in the renowned Esterhàzy Collection, this portrait was considered to be a work by Giovanni Battista Moroni, until 1981 when Daniele Benati rightly suggested an attribution to Bartolomeo Passerotti. Though the naturalism of several details may evoke the work of the bergamasque Moroni, experts such as Francesco Porzio or Angela Ghirardi all agree with Benati and ascribe the elegance of style and abstract rendering of this portrait to the great Bolognese painter.
A versatile and complex artist, Passerotti was, undoubtedly, one of the most interesting protagonists of the second half of the Cinquecento in Bologna. While his oeuvre extends from religious subjects to profane compositions, including genre scenes, Passerotti also concentrated on portraiture, a subject he mastered with much talent. Indeed, Guido Reni used to compare his oeuvre to Carracci’s and insisted on saying that, after Titian, there was no one to be found who mastered portraiture better than the “good Passerotto”.
The elegant attitude of the figure who fixes his gaze upon the viewer while proudly presenting the antique coin, is a peculiarity typical of Passerotti. A specificity already underlined by Mal