Logo: Silhouette of William Hunter

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 43830

This information is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2017

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GLAHM 43830: 'Portrait an unknown gentleman' c.1545-1550 - click to view larger image

"Portrait an unknown gentleman" c.1545-1550

oil painting

CRE BORDON, Paris; (Venetian; 1500-1571) ATTR TITIAN (Tiziano Vecelli); (Italian; 1480/85-1576) ATTR TINTORETTO, Jacopo Robusti, called Il; (Italian; 1518/19-1594)

oil on canvas
73.2 x 60.3
93.1 x 80.2
From the founder, William Hunter's collection. Although now regarded as of little importance or quality, this work was one of Hunter's most prestigious paintings, and was believed to be a portrait of the great anatomist Vesalius, by Titian. It came from the collection of Royal Physician Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754). According to an old tradition, which Hunter's library equipped him to contradict, the woodcut illustrations to the great Renaissance anatomical work, Vesalius's De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543), were designed by Titian. This portrait was therefore still thought by some to be painted by an artist who was one of the great experts in anatomy. Among the books acquired by Hunter from the Mead sale in 1755, bought for 2.3.0, was the first edition of Vesalius's Fabrica. Hunter also bought a volume of 54 drawings, copied from the Fabrica, then believed to be the originals. When it was sold from Mead's collection, this 'Titian' was described as 'Vesalius, the great Anatomist, 3 qrs.'; the price was 39. The confusion over the sitter is perhaps understandable since the frontispiece portrait of Vesalius by Jan Stephan van Calcar bears a superficial resemblance to the man in this painting.

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For more information please contact Malcolm.Chapman@glasgow.ac.uk