Girolamo da Carpi (Italian, 1501–1556),
Young Man With a Red Cap
oil on canvas, 20 x 17 ¾ in.; 50.8 x 45.1 cm
Partial gift of the Gilbert C. Swanson Foundation and Museum Purchase Fund, 1989.8
Unusual for its time, this portrait offers no clues — objects, attributes, symbols — to indicate the reason for its creation or to identify the sitter. The very existence of the work, however, suggests that he belonged to the upper levels of society, for only they could afford a painted likeness. From the portrait’s intimate character, one may surmise that it was hung in a private space, perhaps a bedroom or study.
Unlike northern European portraits of the time, which stressed sharp, linear precision, this canvas exemplifies the Italian emphasis on atmosphere and bodily animation, achieved through soft modeling and harmonious warm coloring.