Giovanni Bressani

oil painting of seated elderly man wearing a black doublet and a black skull cap. His arms rests on a stack of books, and a sheet of paper rests in his lap

Giovanni Battista Moroni
Giovanni Bressani,  dated 1562
Oil on canvas
45 3/4 x 35 in. (116.2 x 88.8 cm)
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; Purchased by Private Treaty, 1977 (NG 2347)
Inscriptions: On the base of foot-shaped inkstand, IO: BAP. MORON. / PINXIT QVEM NON VIDIT [Giovanni Battista Moroni painted him whom he did not see]; on the bottom of the sheet of paper in the foreground, CORPORIS EFFIGIEM ISTA QVIDEM BENE PICTA TABELLA / EXPRIMIT, AST ANIMI TOT MEA SCRIPTA MEI. / M. D. LXII. [This painted picture well depicts the image of my body, but that of my spirit is given by my many writings. 1562]
National Galleries of Scotland

 
This is one of Moroni’s few posthumous portraits. Technical examination revealed ornamentation beneath the black paint of the sitter’s cap that is nearly identical to that which appears on a portrait medal of Bressani; thus the portrait was probably based on the medal. The inscription on the base of the foot-shaped inkwell seems to corroborate the posthumous status of the portrait and thus explain why this depiction lacks the immediacy and emphatic naturalism typical of Moroni’s portraiture. Giovanni Bressani reportedly composed more than seventy thousand verses in Latin, Tuscan, and the Bergamasque vernacular (see the manuscript Prose e poesie). He mentored the poets Isotta Brembati and Lucia Albani, whose portraits are in this exhibition.