About This Artwork

Ridolfo Ghirlandaio
Italian, 1483-1561

Portrait of a Gentleman, c. 1505

Oil, probably with some tempera, on panel; transferred to canvas
68.2 x 49.2 cm (26 11/16 x 19 3/8 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1009

Ridolfo Ghirlandaio transformed the large workshop he inherited from his famous, fresco-painter father, Domenico, into one that specialized in portraits and festival decorations. One of Ridolfo’s most celebrated pictures, this work reveals his careful study of the portraits of Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael in its calm, pyramidal, and expansive presentation of the sitter and in its active, searching light. The foreground parapet, or ledge, over which a hand projects illusionistically into the viewer’s space and the glimpse of landscape through the window are devices Ridolfo borrowed from Flemish painting. The headpiece (cappuccio) and fur-cuffed robe of the unidentified sitter were customary apparel for well-to-do Florentine merchants.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

London, Lawrie and Co., Portraits and Pictures of the Early Italian School, November 1900, no. 12.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, June 1–November 1, 1933, no. 116.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, June 1–November 1, 1934, no. 47.

New York, M. Knoedler and Co., Italian Renaissance Portraits, March 18–April 6, 1940, no. 18.

Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpiece of the Month, October 1943, no cat.

Art Institute of Chicago, Raphael and Titian: The Renaissance Portrait, December 15, 1999–March 19, 2000, no cat.

Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the Renaissance in Florence, May 29–September 5, 2005, no. 21.

Publication History

Walter Armstrong, “Early Italian Portraits,” Art Journal 53 (1901), pp. 46–47, ill.

Drawings by Old Masters in the Collection of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, intro. by S. A. Strong (London, 1902), p. 5.

Bernard Berenson, The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance, 3rd ed. (New York and London, 1909), p. 139.

Art Institute of Chicago, General Catalogue of Paintings, Sculpture, and Other Objects in the Museum (Chicago, 1914), p. 208, no. 2097.

Art Institute of Chicago, Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, and Architecture (Chicago, 1917), p. 164.

Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture, Paintings, and Drawings (Chicago, 1920), p. 62.

Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture and Paintings (Chicago, May 1922), p. 71.

Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture, and Paintings (Chicago, 1923), p. 71.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1925), p. 159, no. 2026.

Rose Mary Fischkin, “Martin A. Ryerson Collection of Paintings and Sculpture, XIII to XVIII Century, Loaned to The Art Institute of Chicago,” (unpub. MS, 1926, Ryerson Library, The Art Institute of Chicago), pp. 23–24.

Carlo Gamba, “Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio et Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio,” Dedalo 9 (1929), pp. 465–67, ill.

Lionello Venturi, Pitture italiane in America (Milan, 1931), pl. CCCXXXVIII.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1932), p. 180, no. 203.12.

Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance (Oxford, 1932), p. 226.

William R. Valentiner, “Paintings in the Collection of Martin A. Ryerson”, (unpub. MS [1932], Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago), n. pag.

Daniel Catton Rich, “The Paintings of Martin A. Ryerson,” Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago 27, 1 (1933), pp. 5, 12, ill.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Collections (Chicago, 1935), p. 20, ill.

Hans Tietze, Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika (Vienna, 1935), p. 331, no. 109, ill.

Bernard Berenson, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento (Milan, 1936), p. 194.

René Brimo, Art et goût: L’Evolution du goût aux Etats-Unis d’après l’histoire des collections (Paris, 1938), p. 92.

Art Institute of Chicago, An Illustrated Guide to the Collections of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 1945), p. 29.

Art Institute of Chicago, An Illustrated Guide to the Collections of The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 1948), p. 26.

Frederick A. Sweet, “La pittura italiana all’Art Institute di Chicago,” Le vie del mondo: Rivista mensile del Touring Club Italiano 15 (July 1953), p. 697, ill.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961), pp. 41, 177, ill.

S. J. Freedberg, Painting of the High Renaissance in Rome and Florence (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1961), vol. 1, p. 78; vol. 2, pl. 80.

Hans Huth, “Italienische Kunstwerke im Art Institute von Chicago, USA,” in Miscellanea Bibliothecae Hertzianae (Munich, 1961), pp. 516–17.

Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School, vol. 1 (London, 1963), p. 77.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1972), pp. 83, 571.

Susan Regan McKillop, Franciabigio (Berkeley, 1974), p. 103.

Anne Fabre and Philippe Costamagna, “À propos de L’Orfèvre du Pitti,” Antichità viva 24 (1985), p. 33 n. 6.

Christopher Lloyd, Italian Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Collection (Chicago, 1993), pp. 103–06, ill.

David Franklin, Painting in Renaissance Florence, 1500–1550 (New Haven, 2001), pp. 108–110, fig. 78.

Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato, in Annamaria Bernacchioni, Ghirlandaio: Una famiglia di pittori del Rinascimento tra Firenze e Scandicci, exh. cat. (Castello dell’Acciaiolo, Scandicci, 2010), p. 118, under no. 8.

Ownership History

Possibly Prince Brancaccio, Rome [according to a letter from Wilhelm von Bode to Scott and Fowles dated January 2, 1912; however the bill of sale from Scott and Fowles to Martin A. Ryerson dated April 13, 1912 states that the picture was “bought from the collection of Prince Piombino, Rome, about twenty years since,” copies in curatorial file]. William Beattie, Glasgow, by 1901 [see Armstrong 1901, p. 46]. Arthur T. Sulley, London, by 1910 [see letter from Bernard Berenson to Arthur T. Sulley dated October 23, 1910, in the Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago]. Scott and Fowles, New York, by 1912; sold by Scott and Fowles to Martin A. Ryerson (died 1932), Chicago, 1912; on loan to the Art Institute from 1912; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1933.




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