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GIOVANNI CAPASSINI

Portrait of Dominique de Pontizel

Oil on panel: 21.5 x 17 cm

introduction

The Portrait of Dominique de Pontizel is in many ways similar to Capassini’s last works in which he focused on singular portraits rather than biblical scenes. Although the identity of Dominique de Pontizel, remains unknown, these similarities strengthen the attribution of the portrait to Capassini given the specific analogous features: strict nose bridge, fixed eyes looking afar, slender and compressed lips which communicate intensity in the subject’s expression.

Dressed in a slender black outfit lacking any distinctively striking elements, the painting’s focus revolves around his sharp gaze expressing both an austere and placid countenance. His lighter beard contrasts with the upper dark hair and hat that promote his look to a higher social rank, perhaps one of the nobility or the royal court. Often ordered by the cardinal François de Tournon, Capassini’s later works reveal a sense of mystery in regards to his subject’s identities which are in most cases difficult to distinguish.

This portrait’s diverse characteristics reveal the influence of Francesco Salviati, an artist close to Capassini, as their portraits share the same composition: the sitter is presented half chest on a neutral background with a three quarter turn, revealing a strong presence.

Furthermore, this specific portrait undeniably links to Corneille de Lyon’s prestigious portraits, by the choice of the background’s tint, the strictness in his subject’s facial expression, the garment elements as well as the presence of a prominent frame.

These features and affiliations support Capassini’s notoriety and strengthen his modest corpus by underlining the artist’s accuracy and master of the Italian and French blend; which nourished French culture during the XVI century.


Provenance :
Sale in Paris, Hotel Drouot from Mr. Hédouin (father), 10-11 December, 1866, n°11 ("Caparsini", portrait de D. de Pontizel, Il a la tête couverte d’une toque et porte un riche vêtement. Epoque XVIème siècle. Vente du cardinal Fesch (400fr));
Private collection, Lyon.


Littérature :
D. Thiébaud, Un artiste florentin au service du Cardinal de Tournon : Giovanni Capassini, Kunst des Cinquecento in der Toskana, Munich, 1992, pp. 176-185.
M. Clément, L’émergence littéraire des femmes à Lyon à la Renaissance 1520-1560, Publication de l’Université de Saint-Etienne, Saint-Etienne, 2008, pp. 82-85.
S. Béguin, Jean Capassin au service du cardinal François de Tournon, Antichita Viva, 1994, pp. 18-26, n°2-3.