Leandro dal Ponte, called Leandro Bassano - PORTRAIT OF A MAN
Leandro dal Ponte, called Leandro Bassano
PORTRAIT OF A MAN
Oil on canvas (relined). 119 x 91 cm.
Hand-signed "Colonna" on the reverse beneath the stretcher and with the brandmark "Fideikommiss Wesendonk".
The painter Leandro Bassano came from a large family of artists and, like three of his brothers, apprenticed under his father Jacopo. Following the death of his father and older brother Francesco in 1592, Leandro perpetuated the typically "bassanesque" manner, but was the only one of Jacopo's sons to develop his own style, which was marked by clear contours and a lighter palette. Leandro resided in Venice from at least 1588, where among his other work he also took up commissions to decorate the Doge's palace.
Leandro also painted altar paintings, religious history paintings and portraits. Unfortunately neither the identity of the man depicted in this work nor the significance of the small bell with the indistinct inscription "[..] van / [… (Dat.?)] Benedict" have so far been discovered, although the pointing gesture towards it identifies the bell as an indication of his rank or profession. In a similar painting of Tiziano Aspetti by Bassano in the Royal Collection, London, the Venetian sculptor is shown gesturing towards a model for his sculpture of Hercules. In both paintings, the light is concentrated primarily on the faces and hands of the sitters, who are depicted in front of a dark background. Both figures are portrayed in elegant clothing, standing in front of a table covered with an opulent oriental carpet. As opposed to the work in the Royal Collection, the interior of this work is defined more closely by the introduction of walls, a ceiling and a chair upholstered in green cloth.
In the 19th century, this portrait was in the collection of the merchant Otto Wesendonck and his wife Mathilde, who is mainly known for being Richard Wagner's mistress. According to her texts, Wagner set the five most well known songs of Wesendonck to music.
We would like to thank Prof. Bernard Aikema, Verona, for confirming the authenticity of the work from a photograph.
Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck collection. - Provincial-Museum Bonn (now known as LVR Rheinisches Landesmuseum). - 376th Lempertz Auction, Cologne, 27.11.1935, lot 3. - Private collection, Rhineland.
Catalogue of the Provinzial-Museum in Bonn, 2nd edition, Bonn 1927, no. 7.