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Portrait of an Elderly Man, c. 1575

Giovanni Battista Moroni

Italian, c.1525-1578
Oil on canvas
20 x 16-1/2 in. (50.8 x 41.9 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

Moroni can be counted among the greatest portrait painters of the sixteenth century. His brush recorded for posterity, with characteristic Lombard candor, the features of countless men and women of his native Bergamo. His male subjects are deadly serious, their thin lips tight, their eyebrows arched, conscious that they are being studied by the artist. In the present picture, the priming is visible through the thinly applied glazes, and the canvas weave presents its textured surface to the light. The extreme economy of detail is typical of Moroni's last period. It is a masterpiece of psychological penetration and objectivity and perfectly reflects the ethical values of the Counter-Reformation, which favored truth over idealization.

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