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Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli
(ca. 1505 - ca. 1569)

Portrait of a Boy of the Bracciforte Family of Piacenza, ca. 1560
Italian Painting
Oil on canvas
65 x 34 5/8 in. (165.1 x 87.9 cm), without frame

Marion Stratton Gould Fund,  76.13

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About the Object

Every pictorial element in this full-length portrait of a young boy refers to his aristocratic heritage and high status in society. His costume is made of a richly-textured fabric trimmed with buttons of gold; the elegant purse at his waist, his fashionable small plumed hat and the golden hilt of his sword attest to the wealth of his family. The coat of arms on the gilded medallion he holds in his right hand clearly identifies him as a member of the Bracciforte family of Piacenza, one of the richest cities in Renaissance Europe. A book, flute and allegorical statue of Fame, shown here as a winged figure holding two long, thin trumpets, are on a table at his right; they suggest the importance of education and music in the highest strata of Renaissance society.

For decades, this portrait was attributed to the painter Niccolò dell'Abate. Recent scholarship, however, has suggested that it is the work of Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli, who was well known for his portraits of the Farnese and other notable and aristocratic families in the Duchy of Piacenza as well as the nearby Duchy of Parma. These two duchies united only a few years after this portrait was painted.

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