Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1470
Antonello da Messina (Antonello di Giovanni d'Antonio) (Italian, Sicilian, ca. 1430–1479)
Oil on wood
10 5/8 x 8 1/8 in. (27 x 20.6 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.645)
Antonello was one of the great portrait painters of the fifteenth century, and this is one of his earliest extant works, dating from about 1470. Flemish portraits that he would have known from the court at Naples provided the model for the bust-length, three-quarter view, with the sitter set against a dark ground. Although damaged, the painting stands out for the smile that animates the sitter's features—Antonello's way of suggesting a living presence.