Portrait of a Man

Domenico Ghirlandaio (Domenico Bigordi) (Italian, Florence 1448/49–1494 Florence)

Tempera on wood
21 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. (54.6 x 44.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    The identity of the sitter of this portrait is unknown. It is an early work by Ghirlandaio, and was probably painted at about the same time as a famous fresco cycle in the principal church of San Gimignano. The lively expression of the sitter explains why Ghirlandaio’s portraits were so admired. The bright green background is the result of a cleaning that removed a layer of oxidized pigment.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Provenance

    private collection, Italy (until 1829); Königliche Museen, later Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin (1829–1924; bought through Rumohr; Wagen, cat., 1837, no. 196, as by Domenico Ghirlandaio; Bode, cats., 1898, 1906, no. 85, as by Sebastiano Mainardi; Posse, cat., 1909, no. 85, as by Mainardi); [Julius Böhler, Munich, 1924; sold to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, Paris and New York, 1924–25; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1925–d. 1931)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.

  • References

    G. F. Waagen. Verzeichniss der Gemälde-Sammlung des Königlichen Museums zu Berlin. Berlin, 1837, p. 61, no. 196, attributes it to Domenico Ghirlandaio.

    Bernhard Berenson. The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance. New York, 1896, p. 120, lists it as Portrait of a Cardinal, by Sebastiano Mainardi.

    G[iovanni]. B[attista]. Cavalcaselle and J[oseph]. A[rcher]. Crowe. "Pittori fiorentini del secolo XV e del prinicipio del seguente." Storia della pittura in Italia. 7, Florence, 1896, pp. 497–98, call it "busto d'un prelato," by Mainardi; note that it was previously attributed to Ghirlandaio and observe his influence.

    foreword by [Wilhelm von] Bode. Königliche Museen zu Berlin: Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde. 4th ed. Berlin, 1898, p. 174, no. 85, as "Bildnis eines Kardinals," by Mainardi.

    forward by [Wilhelm von] Bode. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde im Kaiser Friedrich-Museum. 6th ed. Berlin, 1906, p. 221, no. 85.

    Bernhard Berenson. The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance. 3rd ed. New York, 1909, p. 154.

    Hans Posse. "Die romanischen Länder: Byzanz, Italien, Spanien, Frankreich." Die Gemäldegalerie des Kaiser-Friedrich-Museums. 1, Berlin, 1909, p. 58, no. 85, ill., as "Bildnis eines Kardinals," by Mainardi.

    [Wilhelm von] Bode. Das Kaiser Friedrich Museum. Berlin, 1910, p. 151, no. 85.

    Bernard Berenson. Letter to Michael Friedsam. January 15, 1925, refers to it as a typical achievement of Mainardi.

    Géza De Francovich. "Sebastiano Mainardi." Cronache d'arte 4 (July–August 1927), p. 258, fig. 49, attributes it to Mainardi, calls it the portrait of a cardinal, and dates it before 1490.

    Bernard Berenson in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 38, attributes it to Mainardi but notes that it "is not easily distinguished from a work by Domenico Ghirlandajo".

    B. C. K[replin]. in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 23, Leipzig, 1929, p. 576, as "Portrait of a Cardinal," by Mainardi.

    Raimond van Marle. "The Renaissance Painters of Florence in the 15th Century: The Third Generation." The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. 13, The Hague, 1931, p. 216, fig. 147, as "Portrait of a Cardinal," by Mainardi.

    Lionello Venturi. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931, unpaginated, pl. CCIX, as "Portrait of a Cardinal," by Mainardi.

    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 322.

    Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), p. 38, no. 62, as "Portrait of a Cardinal Attributed to Mainardi"; compare it to the Portrait of a Woman (MMA 32.100.71) by Ghirlandiao.

    Lionello Venturi. "Fifteenth Century Renaissance." Italian Paintings in America. 2, New York, 1933, unpaginated, pl. 276.

    Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 287.

    Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 56, ill., as "Portrait of a Cardinal," by Mainardi.

    Leonia Desideri Costa. "Un ciclo di affreschi di Francesco d'Antonio." Rinascita 6 (January 1943), p. 89, mentions it as a work by Mainardi, erroneously as still in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin.

    Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 127.

    Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School. New York, 1971, p. 140, ill., as "Portrait of a Cardinal"; attribute it to Mainardi, but state "recent cleaning reveals in the sitter's face some sensitive brushstrokes worthy of Ghirlandaio".

    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 117, 523, 607, as by Mainardi.

    Everett Fahy Harvard University. Some Followers of Domenico Ghirlandajo. New York, 1976, p. 217, attributes it to Mainardi.

  • See also
    In the Museum