A Knight of S. Stefano

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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The sitter wears the red cross of the military order of S. Stefano, founded in Pisa in 1561 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de' Medici. Behind the man’s head is a niche containing a sculpture group of a woman and child. Several books of various sizes are propped up on the ledge of the panelling and against the niche. The letters, pen and inkstand on the table, and the books and statue above, allude to his status and learned interests.

Independent life-size and full-length portraits are fairly rare in Tuscan sixteenth-century art. The painting was once thought to be by Alessandro Allori, successor to Bronzino as painter to the Medici court in Florence. However, it is closer in style to the work of Girolamo Macchietti who worked for the Medici as well and who painted The Charity of Saint Nicholas of Bari, also in the National Gallery collection.

The National Gallery, London



A Knight of S. Stefano


after 1563


Oil on wood


H 209.5 x W 121.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by G.F. Watts RA, 1861

Work type


Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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