17th-Century 'Modello' Portrait Of A Philosopher

17th-Century 'Modello' Portrait Of A Philosopher

An exceptional 17th-century Italian portrait of a bearded philosopher deep in thought. The artist has created this with such skill that it appears he’s just about to utter his latest theories. There’s a sense of movement to the piece, which is made even more dramatic by the use of Chiaroscuro - a strong contrast of dark and light.

On the reverse, you can see several sturdy hand-wrought nails, which help to date the painting. And interestingly, it’s been created on paper and laid on canvas.

Italian oil paintings of this nature are often referred to as ‘Modelli’ or ‘Modello’ in its singular form. Modelli are detailed studies that are created to gain the approval of a patron in advance of a larger piece. So it’s likely that this bearded gentleman appears on a more comprehensive work somewhere in the World.

The portrait is housed within a later gilded frame with a decorative inner border.

Oil on paper laid on canvas
Size including frame
15½” x 19¼” / 39cm x 49cm
Year of creation
c. 1700
Some raised areas, including two bumps, which seem to be due to where the paper has been laid on canvas. Craquelure throughout and frame with age-related wear.