Portrait of a Man
(Verona 1528 – 1588 Venice)
|Medium:||oil on canvas|
|Dimensions:||120 x 102 cm|
|Acquisition Credit:||bequest of Count János Pálffy, 1912|
|Department:||Old Master Paintings|
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Portrait of a Man"There is one man who makes easy what we have always been told is impossible; and that is Paolo Veronese. In my view he is the only man who has penetrated the whole secret of nature," praised Delacroix his great predecessor. And indeed, in superior virtuosity, in graceful elegance perhaps only Tiepolo could compete with Veronese in the history of painting. He wallowed in formal tricks, yet remained classical in his spirit: his colours are pure as crystal, and create clear harmony; the locations are spacious and bathed in light; and underlying all the flamboyant cavalcade is a perfectly balanced geometric structure. And if others received more praise in the form of verse or statues, perhaps there was no painter whose direct influence was greater in the following centuries.
This portrait of a young man posing in a sumptuous lynx fur not only conveys the dense essence of Veronese's genius, but also that of the aristocratic cultural milieu which was the hotbed for his art. The structure appears infinitely simple, and the execution also seems effortless, yet so many little ruses create the unquestionable air of authority about the man. His direct open gaze, his easy posture (as recommended by contemporary manuals of ambitious courtiers) is the embodiment of nonchalance. The character is shown through gesture, and just as the painter proclaims his model, he announces himself too: this confident, vigorous, yet easy manner of painting suggests a person born to absolute dominion over matter.