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Title Head of a Bearded Man
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Buonconsiglio, Giovanni (Italian painter, born ca. 1465, died 1535 or 1537)
Previously attributed to Belliniano, Vittore (Italian painter, active 1507, died 1529)
Previously attributed to Savoldo, Giovanni Girolamo (Italian painter and draftsman, active ca. 1480-after 1548)
Date Earliest about 1511
Date Latest about 1537

Buonconsiglio is known as 'Il Marescalco' (a military commander or supreme head of royal stables), probably because of his father's trade. He was the most distinguished follower of the school of painting in Vicenza, headed by Bartolommeo Montagna. By 1495 he had settled in Venice where he came under the influence of Giovanni Bellini. In 1531 he was President of the 'School of Painters' in Venice. The development of Venetian portraiture from the 15th century profile type to the achievements of Giorgione and Titian is important for the whole subsequent history of European portraiture. Buonconsiglio played a small but positive part in this development. He was one of the most accomplished followers of Antonello da Messina, from whose manner he evolved an individual portrait style. He shows great insight into character, a sure grasp of modelling and skillful rendering of texture.

If this panel is by Buonconsiglio, it must belong to the latter part of his career when his style, hitherto founded upon that of Antonello, was revolutionised by contact with either Titian or Romanino. This change first occurs in three altarpieces for the Cathedral of Montagnana, one of which is dated 1511 and another 1513. The Portrait of a Manwas bought in Venice during the nineteenth century on the advice of John Ruskin.

Current Accession Number 1950P9
Former Accession Number P.950
Subject portrait (male)
Measurements 29.5 x 22.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Given by Trustees of the Public Picture Gallery Fund 1950.
Provenance Purchased in Venice, 1879 by James Reddie Anderson on Ruskin's advice as Carpaccio; by descent to his daughter, Miss Lydia M. Anderson; Sotheby's, London, 14 April 1948, lot 158; Buttery Collection.
Principal Exhibitions ,
Publications Berenson, B., Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School, 1957, I, p.50; Heinemann, F., Giovanni Bellini e i Belliniani, 1962, no. 335 as Girolamo Savoldo, ill. no. 582; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 19, ill.
Notes James Anderson was a great personal friend and neighbour of Ruskin and often bought on his advice.

Inscription on the back reads 'Una Testa di Titziano'. However, Lionello Venturi and another leading Italian expert have both attributed it unhesitatingly to Buonconsiglio. The attribution to Belliniano was made in 1954 by Bernard Berenson working from a photograph. Although his most recent attribution agrees with Buonconsiglio, he has added a question mark to it to provoke further discussion. The attribution to Belliniano is based on similarities with the bust of a bearded young man by Belliniano in the Van Foerster Collection, Heidelberg which has certain affinities with this work.

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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