Through a gift from late benefactor Assadour O. Tavitian, an exceedingly rare Renaissance marble portrait has entered the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art: Roman artist Francesco Salviati’s c. 1545 depiction of wealthy Italian banker Bindo Altoviti, an enemy of the powerful Medici family.
Bindo Altoviti lived in Rome and enjoyed a lucrative career of distributing loans to European powers including the king of France, a line of popes, and the Venetian government. Shortly after Salviati painted his portrait, however, Bindo assumed a publicly anti-Medici stance and in 1554, the family declared him a rebel.
Salviati’s depiction of Bindo is The Met’s only painting created on marble, and the museum’s curator of European paintings Stephan Wolohojian said the work is also the only large 16th-century marble portrait that he knows of (Roman artists from this time period typically opted for slate). In addition to employing a rarely used material, Salviati’s dark, lush painting also diverged from the dominant artistic styles of Florence, trends which the Medicis would have helped to cultivate through their extensive patronage of the arts.
“It is easy to imagine Bindo engaging an artist to create his likeness on marble in a non-Florentine manner as a defiant gesture against the Medici,” Wolohojian said in a statement. While the painting’s stylistic choices likely sent a message to Florence’s ruling family, the painting is also infused with allusions to Bindo’s wealth. The banker wears a fur-lined coat and is enveloped by velvet, delicately constructed tassels, and silk.
Salviati was successful in his own right. He spent extensive time in Venice and Bologna before returning to Rome, earned commissions from important political figures, joined the workshop of painter and biographer Giorgio Vasari, and even spent a year in France, where his work had become popular.
Salviati’s c. 1545 rendering is the second of three masterful portraits of Bindo. The first is Rafael’s painting of the banker in his youth, created around 1515 when the sitter was 24 years old. Rafael forgoes velvets and fur but crafts Bindo with astounding flattery, delicately painting the young man’s blonde curled hair, green eyes, and flushed cheeks.
A few years after Salviati painted his marble portrait, Benvenuto Cellini created a bronze bust of Bindo’s likeness. The sculpture, in the collection of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, was included alongside Salviati’s painting in The Met’s 2021 exhibition The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512–1570.
Salviati’s portrait of Bino is currently on view in The Met’s Italian Renaissance sculpture and decorative arts gallery and will be moved to the pre-1800s European painting room in November 2023.
Goya’s Coded Love Letter to the Duchess of Alba
Goya neatly clothes himself in his own world of fantasy: He will have her in the end. In life, where the climate is much chillier, it was, alas, to be otherwise.
Witches Take Over Westchester
Bowen’s multimedia art is an alchemical mix of the sensuous and arcane, and it is more than a little witchy.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
14 Art Books and Catalogues We’re Reading This Month
Anthologies and catalogues on feminist art in Latin America, Native mound building, Armenian photography, and more are on our reading list.
Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award
Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the shortlisted artists.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles
“With the power of blockchain technology, there will be no question who the real owner is,” said a British Museum spokesperson.
MoMA to Co-Curate Exhibition With NYPD
Arrest Me, Daddy hopes to cast a more positive light on the work of law enforcement officers.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Repatriation-Inspired Fragrance Line Hopes to Heal Collector Wounds
The exotic scents of the Rapatriement line offer solace and joy to dismayed collectors who were forced to return looted artifacts.
Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist
Visitors who spoke to Hyperallergic said they were “horrified” to learn that a human could come up with such a banal and poorly executed artwork.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Prince Harry to Star in New Van Gogh Biopic
The estranged prince said he took the role to raise awareness of mental health issues.
Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs
A cache of 243 paintings found in an English castle, all depicting canine subjects, suggests Vermeer’s true aspiration was to become a dog portraitist.