Portrait of a Man, after 1570
Giovanni Battista Moroni
oil on canvas
97.9 x 78.2 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3082)
The Latin reads: "He subdues harshness with gentleness." Coupled with the paper he holds, the motto suggests that the sitter may have been a secretary, used to mediating between petitioners and his employer, or perhaps held some legal or diplomatic office. The restrained range of colours is skilfully exploited, and the composition enlivened by the books and papers spilling off the table into our space. Moroni was a gifted portraitist, active in Lombardy and the Venetian mainland. His works are marked by a sense that his sitters are almost present in their carefully described portraits.