Acquisition of Andrea del Sarto’s Portrait of a Man Wearing a Large Hat

Along with Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, Andrea del Sarto was one of the most prominent painters in Renaissance Florence, yet only a small number of portraits by him have survived. This newly discovered likeness of an unidentified patrician – it has been suggested that the sitter might be identified as Ottaviano de’ Medici (1484–1546) — is thus a wonderful addition to this rare genre by del Sarto’s hand and dates to the most prolific decade in his career. He painted this mature portrait in the mid-1520s after a presumed trip to Rome where he would have seen Raphael’s latest work. The serenity and poise of the sitter, complemented by the luxurious sleeve, and the immediate simplicity of the composition attest to del Sarto’s admiration for Raphael’s latest style. The viewer encounters the elegant man, who seems to be carefully unboxing what has been suggested to be wax seals or pigments. The colourful objects in the box are yet to be identified with certainty, and his pensive gaze encourages much speculation about their significance for the sitter, who is driven to deep thought over the objects at his fingertips.

Andrea del Sarto, Portrait of a Man Wearing a Large Hat, mid-1520s