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Portrait of a Musician, ca. 1515

Artist: Attributed to Bernardino Licinio, Italian (Venetian School), active 1511 - 1549

Medium: Oil on canvas

Painting: 27 1/4 x 21 3/8 in. (69.2 x 54.3 cm)
Frame: 36 1/2 x 30 7/8 in. (92.7 x 78.4 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Object Number: 61.189

On View

Prince Barberini Collection, Rome; Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1878-1955), Rome-Florence, March 4, 1932; Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955), New York, New York,1939; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952 [deaccessioned]; Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York, New York, 1961

The portraits and altarpieces of Bernardino Licinio are filled with the warm, diffused light and rich color which characterize the art of Renaissance Venice. A student of Giovanni Bellini (ca. 1430 - ca. 1516), Licinio painted gentle, lyrical imagery and his portraits include a number of large family groups.


Portrait of a Musician is reflective of the new humanism in Renaissance portraiture which often presented individuals without religious or specific historical reference. In this half-length example, the fact that the sitter was a musician is confirmed by the painter's careful attention to the violoncello.  The figure is brought directly forward to the viewer, while the curved lines of the musical instrument's neck, the sitter's clasped hand and tilted head ingeniously combine to produce a harmonious whole.