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Bartolomeo Bianchini was a nobleman and humanist scholar from Bologna – his name is written on the letter he holds. This is the earliest known use of a letter as a means of naming the sitter in an Italian portrait.
The lighting from the right is unusual, suggesting that this portrait might once have been paired with a companion picture lit from the left – perhaps a portrait of the man who wrote the letter. This portrait seems to be based on the Portrait of a Man with a Ring by Francesco del Cossa (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid).
perhaps about 1485-1500
Oil on wood
H 56.5 x W 40.6 cm
Salting Bequest, 1910