Portrait of a Man, possibly Matteo di Sebastiano di Bernardino Gozzadini

Artist: Attributed to the Maestro delle Storie del Pane (Italian (Emilian), active late 15th century)

Date: 1494(?)

Medium: Tempera on wood

Dimensions: Overall 20 3/4 x 14 5/8 in. (52.7 x 37.1 cm); painted surface 19 3/8 x 14 in. (49.2 x 35.6 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.95

Description

This portrait and its pendant (1975.1.96) represent a husband and wife of the Gozzadini family of Bologna; the family's coat of arms appears prominently in both paintings. The inscribed architectural frieze in the background, which runs across both panels, attests to the commemorative function of the portraits: VT SIT NOSTRA FORMA SVPERSTES (In order that our features may survive). Probably made to celebrate a betrothal or marriage, the portraits contain numerous allusions to love and matrimony, such as the spray of flowers, known as pinks, held by the male sitter, and the fruit (perhaps a quince) held by his wife. The pelican and phoenix at lower left of the male portrait refer respectively to charity and resurrection - Christian virtues here associated with the sacrament of marriage. In the lower right corner of the female portrait are two rabbits and a girl confronting a unicorn, the former connoting fecundity and the latter chastity.

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