Nicolo dell' Abate was an Emilian painter active in Modena, Bologna and ultimately the Fontainebleau of Henry II of France, where he worked with his compatriot, the equally gifted Primaristocrataticcio. He was associated with, rather than central to, the mannerist movement which was virtually a European court style in the first half of the sixteenth century. It was in the newly independent genre of landscape that dell' Abate made his most enduring contribution to the history of Western art. His classically inspired landscapes are staffed by elegant figures and typified by pastoral themes pre-empting those of Poussin and Claude. In portraiture dell' Abate was a canny observer of the interior life of his subjects, managing to suggest something of the uniqueness of their psychology. The north Italian aristocrat portrayed here has an almost indecisive air at odds with his masterful pose and sporty regalia. Dell' Abate clearly empathised with this equivocal quality, which he so subtly translates into paint.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
Portrait of a gentleman, half length, wearing a black coat with grey sleeves and a hat, a falcon perched on his finger
circa 1548-circa 1550
oil on canvas
107.5 x 84.5 cm stretcher; 139.5 x 117.0 x 8.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1991
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Old Masters - Recent Acquistions, Agnew's, London, London, 02 Nov 1971–10 Dec 1971
Master Paintings. Recent Acquistions, Agnew's, London, London, 29 May 1975–04 Jul 1975
Splendour of the Baroque: Painting from Bologna 1550 to 1750:
Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994
The Fine Art of Giving: 90 Masterpieces from the William Bowmore Collection, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 02 Nov 1999–01 Apr 2000
Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence/Tuscany/Italy, [dealer]
Agnew's, London, London/England, by 1971, exhibited in 'Old masters - recent acquisitions' 2 November - 10 December 1971
William Bowmore, 1975?-19 Jul 1991, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, Purchased by the AGNSW from William Bowmore 1991. This painting was offered for sale at Christie's London, 9 December 1988 'Important Old Master Pictures', but did not sell.
Referenced in 13 publications
Agnew's, London, Old Masters - Recent Acquisitions, 1971, (illus.). cat.no. 16. Entered as 'Sebastiano del Piombo'.
Agnew's, London, Master Paintings. Recent Acquisitions, 1975, (illus.). cat.no. 21
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School, 1957, 163. Entered as 'Sebastiano del Piombo'.
Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Annual Report 1997, Sydney, 1997, 17 (colour illus.).
Renée Free, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 114 (colour illus.).
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 23 (colour illus.).
M. Lucco, L'opera completa di Sebastiano del Piombo, 1980, (llus.). cat.no. 183
Rodolfo Pallucchini, Sebastian Viniziano, 1944, 170. plate no. 75. Entered as 'Sebastiano del Piombo c.1530-33'.
Angus Trumble, The Fine Art of Giving: 90 Masterpieces from the William Bowmore Collection, 'The collection in focus', pg.29-71, Adelaide, 1999, 38, 39 (colour illus.), 73. cat.no. 5
Michael Wardell, Look, 'Foundation building', pg.14-17, Sydney, Sep 2004, 15.
Johannes Wilde, The Burlington Magazine, Review of Palluchini's "Sebastiano Viniziano", 1946.
Author Unknown, Splendour of the Baroque: Painting in Bologna from 1550 to 1750, Sydney, 1993, 3, 4 (colour illus.).