Portrait of a Man

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
23 1/2 x 18 1/2 in.
Credit line
Gift in memory of Booth Tarkington
Accession number
47.1
Collection
Currently On View

This forceful image of an unknown man was painted during the first decade of the 16th century, at a time when Titian was the favorite portraitist of the Venetian nobility. The portrait conveys the vivid sense of presence so often observed by Titian's contemporaries.

If the portrait produced by the perfection of art-which is so with you alone-approach the truth so closely that, with spirit added to them as well, Nature could reside there in vain.
-Lodovico Dolce, 1538
Possibly Nicolò Renieri [1591-1667], Venice.{1}Possibly the Duc de Mouchy.{2}Possibly Prince Orloff, Gatschina Palace outside Saint Petersburg.{3}Sale (Sotheby’s, London) in 1930;{4} purchased by Powell.{5} (Jean Schmit, Paris);{6} (E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York) by 1937{7}; Booth Tarkington [1869-1946], Indianapolis, by 1938;{8}sold back to Silberman Galleries by Tarkington’s widow; purchased by an number of Indianapolis citizens for the Herron Art Institute, now Indianapolis Museum of Art, as a gift in memory of Booth Tarkington in 1947 (47.1).{9}

{1}The painter Nicolò Renieri (Nicolas Régnier) is mentioned as the owner of a painting of the poet Ludovico Ariosto by Titian in Carlo Ridolfi, Le Maraviglie dell’Arte, Ovvero Le Vite degli Illustri Pittori Veneti e dello stato, Venice, 1648, reprint Berlin, 1914-24. Hans Tietze was the first to propose that the subject of the IMA painting is Ariosto, though not all scholars agree. Harold Wethey, author or The Paintings of Titian, vol. II: The Portaits, London, 1971, cat. no. 7, questions this identification.
{2}See footnote 6 below. This has not been verified.
{3}See footnote 6 below. It is known that Comte Grégoire Orloff [1777-1826] wrote an Essai sur l’histoire de la peinture en italie, depuis les temps les plus anciens jusqu’a nos jours, Paris, 1823, but ownership by the Orloff family has not been verified.
{4}Sotheby’s, London, “Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters of the Italian, Dutch and French Schools, The Property of Daniel Campbell, Esq., the Property of M.H. Woodward, Esq. and other properties…”, 29 January 1930, lot no. 52A (ex-cat., but noted in an annotated copy of the auction catalogue.)
{5}See London Times, “The Sale Room,” 30 January 1930, where it is identified as a “portrait of a gentleman,” and see “Prices and Buyers’ Names” supplement to Sotheby’s auction catalogue.
{6}William Suida remembered seeing the portrait in the home of the Parisian dealer Jean Schmit at an unspecified date, see his letter to Wilbur Peat dated 18 June 1947 in IMA Historical File (47.1). Schmit, in turn, informed Suida, via an intermediary, of the provenance of the painting, which Suida passed on to the director of the Herron Art Institute in 1948. He lists: Comte de St.Léon, Duc de Mouchy; Prince Orloff, Palais Gatchina; Jean Schmidt (sic), Paris; Silberman, New York.
A custom’s stamp (“Douane Centrale Exportation Paris”), appearing on a removed portion of the stretcher bar, confirms that the painting passed through France. An additional custom’s stamp (“Z. Stelle f. Denkmalschutz im Bdsmin. F. Unterr.” meaning “Zentrale Stelle für Denkmalschutz im Bundesministerium für Unterricht”) presumed to be Austrian (or German?) has not yet been linked to a previous owner.
{7}Copy of a letter from Hans Tietze, Vienna, to Mr. Silberman, dated 14 April 1937 in IMA Historical File (47.1).
{8}Letter documenting the sale, sent to Booth Tarkington by E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, dated 2 June, 1938 in IMA Historical File (47.1).
{9}See “Tarkington’s Titian kept,” New York Times, 26 January 1947. Here it is stated that the noted art historian Hans Tietze was a former owner of the painting, which is in error.
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