Gentleman with Red Sleeves by Paris Bordone - 1549–1550 - 83 x 110 cm Musei di Strada Nuova Gentleman with Red Sleeves by Paris Bordone - 1549–1550 - 83 x 110 cm Musei di Strada Nuova

Gentleman with Red Sleeves

oil on canvas • 83 x 110 cm
  • Paris Bordone - 5 July 1500 - 19 January 1571 Paris Bordone 1549–1550

Did you miss Renaissance paintings? : )

Born in Treviso (Italy), Paris Bordone (1500–1571) was trained in Venice in the workshop of TItian, from whom he learnt the chromatic vigor and the use of bright colors that distinguished his entire production. According to Giorgio Vasari, Bordone spent little time with Titian and instead tried to imitate the style of Giorgione. His master became jealous of his talent. Bordone went to live in Venice but soon in 1528 he was called by the king of France, Francis I, to paint a portrait of him and of his court.

Gentleman with Red Sleeves is a wonderful portrait of a bearded man in black dress and brilliant red sleeves, holding a letter, and with his elbow resting on a table. The character is depicted in a domestic environment (a balustrade is behind him). The colors of the sleeves are particularly striking and so it explains the title of this painting. The table that is also covered in red gives a vibrant and warm composition. This half-length portrait is a very good and precious example of the style of the Venitian School. In the background we can see, as a continuation of the story, a man delivering a letter to a lady who is standing on a loggia. Maybe this is the same as the one held by the man with the red sleeves? If so, the woman in the background could be his lover.

It is thought that the model represented here could be the collector Carlo da Rho. Bordone stayed in his house for a bit. He also painted a portrait of the collector's wife (Paola Visconti), which could be a pendant of this painting. In that portrait, Paola is represented in an intimate atmosphere, in a mannerist style, in a bright red gown and holding some letters (just like the portrait of the Gentleman with Red Sleeves).

- Tony Goupil

P.S. Among great Venetian painters, Tintoretto was born there exactly 500 years ago and is called the enfant terrible of Renaissance Italian Art; read about him here!