Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim's Costume

Pastel half length portrait of a man wearing a black hat on his head and holding a staff in his left hand

Rosalba Carriera (1673–1757)
Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim's Costume, ca. 1730–40
Pastel on paper, laid down on canvas
23 1/4 × 18 15/16 in. (59.1 × 48.3 cm)
Gift of Alexis Gregory, 2020
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.

This object is now on view in Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera  (June 1, 2023–March 3, 2024).

The black cape the sitter wears and the baton he holds are typical attributes of a pilgrim. It is not known who the sitter is, but these attributes could be a reference to his surname— Pellegrini (Italian), Pilgrim (English), Pèlerin (French), Pilger (German). It is more likely, however, that these elements, together with the sitter’s casually placed tricorn hat, represent a costume for the Venetian Carnival. In 1720–21, Rosalba traveled to Paris, where she became acquainted with Antoine Watteau (1684–1721). In a number of paintings, Watteau depicts aristocrats in pilgrim attire journeying to the mythological island of love. It is possible that this portrait was commissioned by a nobleman familiar with Watteau’s art and desirous of an allusion to it.

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