Paintings | 16th Century | Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino | Portrait of a Saint | Artwork profile

43,5 cm x 35 cm
Oil on panel
1613-1615 ca.


Portrait of a Saint

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino

The subject
This portrait, which is strikingly expressive, depicts the face of a middle-aged man defined by a long dark beard. His facial features, which are quite common in hagiographical depictions (such as the thick beard and marked baldness), and lack of specific iconographic elements make it difficult to precisely determine the person in the portrait. The absence of identifying elements and the posture assumed by the man indicate that he is a biblical character, apostle or evangelist, and furthermore this plate that served as a preparatory study prior to creating a larger work.

The painting

Andrea Emiliani attributed this work to Guercino (written expertise), also hypothesizing that it served as a preparatory study prior to the creation of one of the portraits of the Four Evangelists, today preserved in the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden, thus placing this work chronologically in the early period of the Emilian painter, just prior to 1615.

Another iconographic comparison highlights the strong resemblance of the subject in this plate with a character in another work by the painter from Cento: King David violinist, dated chronologically to around 1620 and preserved today at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen. The resemblance between the faces in the two pieces is remarkable: Barbieri appears to have used the same model for both. The position of the torso and head as well as the grieved expression of the face are the same.