Cittadini Pier Francesco, Portrait of a Gentleman with Cuirass and Red Bow

1,650 - 1,670; oil on canvas
cm. 111 x 84,5 cm

Inventory: AF01264AFC
Provenance: Marcenaro Bequest

The painting was formerly in the Caterina Marcenaro Collection, at which time it was attributed to the French artist Nicolas de Largillière, and was bought by Cariplo in 1976. In the written assessment made by Federico Zeri on the occasion of the purchase, the work was attributed to Pier Francesco Cittadini, an opinion later shared by both Carli and Dell’Acqua. In the catalogue devoted to the Foundation’s collection of antique art, the authorship of this painter of Milanese origin but Bolognese by adoption is questioned, and the work more generally attributed to the “Bolognese or French school”.

In fact, the elegant portrait of the young aristocrat wearing a parade cuirass and an elaborate scarlet necktie evokes the international culture in which Cittadini immersed himself during his stay in Rome, where he was in contact with Flemish and French artists who evidently influenced both his still lifes and portraits.

Thus it would seem opportune to accept Zeri’s opinion and opt for the attribution to this Lombard artist who settled in Emilia. The painting under consideration, therefore, is one of the artist’s finest expressive achievements, due to his extraordinary skill in rendering the psychology of the sitter, a man who is very conscious of his social position; a skill that characterises every one of Cittadini’s numerous portraits, (such as The Malvezzi Campeggi Family, Dozza, Museo Civico and Gentleman with his Son in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna), and seems to anticipate by several years the poetics of Fra’ Galgario.

Sources:Archivio Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, cart. 26, not found


Raffaella Colace, Ritratto di gentiluomo con corazza e sciarpa rossa, in Maria Luisa Gatti Perer, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Dal Classico al Neoclassico, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1998, n. 124, pp. 252-253, ill..

Domenico Sedini
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