Portrait of a Man, Possibly Ottavio Farnese (1524–1586), Duke of Parma and Piacenza

Anthonis Mor van Dashorst (Netherlandish, 1519–1575)

Oil on canvas
82 1/4 x 46 3/4 in. (208.9 x 118.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Nate B. Spingold, 1951
Accession Number:
  • Catalogue Entry


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Dated (left center): 1563

  • Provenance

    George Philip Cecil Arthur Stanhope, 7th Earl of Chesterfield (until 1871); his sister, Evelyn, Countess of Carnarvon (1871–d. 1875); her son, George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, Highclere Castle, Newbury, Hampshire (1875–1918; sale, The Bretby Heirlooms, Christie's, London, May 31, 1918, no. 49, for £241.10 to Maynard); [M. Knoedler & Co., London and New York, jointly with Scott & Fowles, New York, 1919–46; sale, Parke–Bernet, New York, March 28, 1946, no. 77, for $5,000 to Weitzner]; [Julius Weitzner, New York, 1946–?]; Mr. and Mrs. Nate B. Spingold (by 1950–51)

  • Exhibition History

    London. Olympia. "Ideal Home Exhibition," April 1930, no. 28 (lent by Knoedler).

    Copenhagen. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. "Udstillingen af Belgisk Kunst," April 26–May 25, 1931, no. 19 (lent by Knoedler).

    New York. Century Club. "Masters of Portraiture," March 6–April 3, 1938, no. 7 (lent by Knoedler).

    Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Masterpieces of Painting," February 5–March 8, 1942, no. 2 (as "Portrait of a Nobleman, said to be Ottavio Farnese . . .," by Mor, lent by Knoedler).

    Oberlin. Allen Memorial Art Museum. "Loan exhibition of paintings," 1943, no. 10 (lent by Knoedler).

    Indianapolis. John Herron Art Museum. "Holbein and His Contemporaries," October 22–December 24, 1950, no. 56 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Nate B. Spingold).

    The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago. "Northern Renaissance Art in Shakespeare's Time," October 12–November 14, 1964, no. 10.

  • References

    Maurice W. Brockwell. Antonis Mor, (Dutch School. 1519–1576), Portrait of Ottavio Farnese, Second Duke of Parma. (1524–1586) [produced for Knoedler Galleries]. 1920, identifies the sitter as Ottavio Farnese, comparing it with a portrait of Ottavio which he ascribes to Girolamo Mazzuola di Parma [now Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples] and with medals of him executed by Pastorino between 1552 and 1556; comments on the resemblance of pose and character between our portrait and the Portrait of a Young Man, which he identifies as Alessandro Farnese, the son of Ottavio, by Sanchez Coello, a pupil of Anthonis Mor [now National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin].

    "Current Art Notes." Connoisseur 74 (February 1926), p. 121, ill. opp. p. 116, illustrate it as a portrait of a gentleman by Mor.

    Paul Lambotte. "Exhibition of Flemish and Belgian Art, Copenhagen." Apollo 13 (June 1931), p. 381.

    Max J. Friedländer. "Anthonis Mor und seine Zeitgenossen." Die altniederländische Malerei. 13, Leiden, 1936, p. 173, no. 374, pl. 70, lists it with the works of Mor and illustrates it as "Ottavio Farnese (?)".

    Francis M. Kelly. "On a Portrait at Buckingham Palace." Connoisseur (December 1940), p. 185, ill., as Ottovavio Farnese by "Ant. Mor?".

    L. C. J. Frerichs. Antonio Moro. Amsterdam, [1947], p. 42, ill. opp. p. 45.

    Max J. Friedländer et al. "Antonis Mor and His Contemporaries." Early Netherlandish Painting. 13, New York, 1975, p. 103, no. 374, pl. 184.

    Margrit A. Jay. "Antonio Moro: Royal Court Painter, 1519–1576." PhD diss., Texas Christian University, 1975, p. 119, lists it under the heading "Paintings Attributed to Moro: Doubtful".

    From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, p. 411, ill.

  • Notes

    Ottavio Farnese (1524–1586) was the second son of Pier Luigi Farnese and Gerolama Orsini and the grandson of Alessandro Farnese (Pope Paul III). In 1538, at the age of fifteen, he married Margaret of Parma (1522–1586), the natural daughter of the Emperor Charles V. Ottavio became Duke of Camerino in 1540, was created a knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1546, and succeeded his father as Duke of Parma and Piacenza in 1547. He accompanied his wife to Brussels in 1559 when she went there as Governess of the Netherlands, and he was in Brussels again in 1563, the year in which this portrait was painted.

    Both Margaret of Austria and Alessandro Farnese, her son, were painted by Mor. The portrait of Margaret, now in Weisbaden, is similar in composition to the portrait of Ottavio and, according to Henri Hymans (Antonio Moro, son oeuvre et son temps, Brussels, 1910), was painted when she was Governess of the Netherlands and about forty years old, in 1562. The portrait of Alessandro is in the Parma Gallery. Hymans, without knowing our portrait, felt that Mor was probably commissioned to paint Ottavio Farnese, as well as his wife and eldest son, when he arrived in Brussels in 1563.

    The sitter here does not wear the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Ottavio withdrew from the Order when he accepted French protection against the Gonzaga in 1551. The subject wears instead a triple gold chain which may symbolize the three duchies of Camerino, Parma, and Piacenza.

    Brockwell feels our portrait may have been among those exhibited in the Galerie Napoléon in 1811 (described by Hymans, 1910, p. 182) and surrendered to the Allies with Napoleon's defeat in 1815.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History