Portrait of a Gentleman and His Two Children

oil painting of seated man with his two young daughters standing before him
Giovanni Battista Moroni
Portrait of a Gentleman and His Two Children, ca. 1572–75
Oil on canvas
49 3/8 x 38 5/8 in. (125.3 x 98 cm)
National Gallery of Ireland Collection, Dublin; Purchased, 1866 (NGI 105)
Inscription: On letters, “Al Mag. [Magnifico] Sig. [Signore] [...] Albino”; “[...] Albino.”
© National Gallery of Ireland

 

 
In Moroni’s only known triple portrait, the body language of the man protectively embracing the children suggests that he is their father, but the popular assumption that he is a widower cannot be confirmed. The older child, a girl, wears bows in her hair, while the younger child may be a boy. In the Renaissance, boys were dressed in long skirts until they reached the age — about six or seven years — to wear breeches. Written on the letters on the table are Albino and the form of address Mag (Magnifico), suggesting that the unidentified man is of high social status and from, or living in, Moroni’s native city. The haphazardly arranged books on the shelf may signal that his profession has something to do with reading or writing, though they may also simply contribute to the domestic setting.