Fra Galgario | Portrait of a Young Gentleman
The Accademia Carrara has greeted with great enthusiasm the arrival of the magnificent painting by Fra Galgario.
The work, which is on permanent loan from the Direzione Regionale Musei Lombardia, was purchased by the Italian State to secure it forever as part of the public heritage. The museum has thirty works by the great Bergamo-born master, who spent most of his life in the city, after studying in Venice.
The painting has now found its ideal setting, alongside the other works by Galgario, expanding the series of portraits that show off society as it was at the time, with realistic insight and a superb mastery of ornamentation. Fra Galgario was a master of portrait painting and a highly sensitive interpreter of an unusually broad range of human traits.
The choice of the Carrara as the place where the painting will be preserved and displayed also has particular value for the history of collecting, which is an essential aspect of the museum, for this important portrait was created in Bergamo and has been preserved here for centuries.
The artist’s birthplace and the glorious history of collecting that is such a feature of Bergamo thus come together in the most wonderful way on this occasion.
M. Cristina Rodeschini
The gentleman is wearing an elegant taupe-coloured jacket lined in green, contrasting with the white of his shirt and the black of his bow tie and tricorn.
He is immortalised half-length, with his right hand resting on his side, in a pose that follows the tradition of “official” portraits, even though without any celebratory or commendatory intent.
This can be seen in the way the painting conveys a subtle psychological tension, given by the almost imperceptible way in which the young man holds the hem of his jacket, as though wishing to button it up better, in order to adopt a more fitting pose, and this is heightened by his impenetrable eyes, as he stares out at us from the canvas with a look that is a mix of swagger and boredom.
In the past, it was said that the sitter was Francesco Maria Tassi, a friend of Fra Galgario and his first biographer.
The hypothesis is intriguing, but has never been confirmed.
The painting has always remained in Bergamo, and its history of ownership points to the small circle of city aristocrats that the artist portrayed throughout his career, combining the colouristic exuberance of Veneto painting with the Lombard tradition of true representation, faithful to reality.
The perfect balance between the two, the mode of execution, and the ability to capture the personality of the sitter with such representational skill, place the painting in the mature period of the artist’s career.
As its prestigious exhibition history demonstrates, it is one of the most emblematic examples of Galgario’s portrait paintings.
Fra Galgario (Giuseppe Ghislandi)
Bergamo 1655 – 1743
Ritratto di giovane gentiluomo
Portrait of a Young Gentleman
olio su tela | oil on canvas
deposito Direzione Regionale Musei Lombardia, 2020