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Portrait of a Man with a Felt HatEnlarge image

Portrait of a Man with a Felt Hat, 1541?

Lorenzo Lotto
Italian, 1480 - 1556
oil on paper
57.8 x 46.5 cm
Purchased 1998
National Gallery of Canada (no. 39708)

Renaissance portraits call upon us to interpret character, and to forget that the image is an illusion. We can imagine the man has just removed his hat to address us and while he meets our gaze, he seems slightly ill at ease. He is dressed simply, and his clothes suggest that he is a craftsman, merchant or perhaps a steward. It is among the very few portraits of such a sitter, and we sense the artist's sympathy for the man. He painted the work on paper, which was often used and this is a rare survival. Lotto's account book lists several such works painted in 1541, and later bartered by the artist in partial payment of a debt.

Additional Information 

Unsigned

Provenance 

1541–
Ottavio da Macerata, Macerata, Italy, acquired from the artist (?)[1]

– 1991/05/31
Private Collection, South America [2]

1991/05/31 – 1998/09/21

Piero Corsini Inc., New York, NY, purchased from an unknown South American private collector [3]

1998/09/21
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Piero Corsini Inc., New York, NY [4]

Notes 

[1] Lotto's account book, the “Libro di Spese Diverse” lists eight “disegni, cioè teste colorite ad olio, in carta de naturale” [“drawings of heads, coloured, in oil, on paper, from nature”], among works of art paid to an “Otavio da Macerata” in settlement of a debt [L. Lotto, Libro di spese diverse, con aggiunta di lettere e d'altri documenti. Ed. P. Zampetti. (Np., 1969), p. 221 transcribing f. 157 r, for an entry dated to March 4, 1541, in Venice.]. The identification is speculative.

[2] The painting was included in a sale at Christie's, New York, on May 31, 1991 [“Important Old Master Paintings”, lot no. 129]. According to Christie's the consignor was a South American collector, who “had brought it to the Christie's offices in Rio de Janeiro” [C. Johnston, Justification for purchase, NGC curatorial file]. New York art dealer Piero Corsini purchased the painting at the 1991 sale.

[3] See note [2].

[4] The National Gallery of Canada purchased the work from Piero Corsini on September 21, 1998 [Accession log, NGC curatorial file].

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