Baccio Bandinelli: Self-Portrait, c. 1530

Portrait of the Doge Andrea Gritti by Titian, 1546–48.

Andrea Gritti was the Doge of Venice from 1523 till his death 1538, following a distinguished diplomatic and military career. He concluded a treaty with Charles V, ending Venice’s active involvement in the Italian Wars. He attempted to maintain the neutrality of the Republic in the face of the continued struggle between Charles and Francis, urging both to turn their attention to the advances of the Ottoman Empire in Hungary. However, he could not prevent Suleiman I from attacking Corfu in 1537, drawing Venice into a war with the Ottomans.

Titian painted Gritti twice during his reign. He completed this posthumous portrait, which might have been commissioned as a memorial by the doge’s family, around 1546–1548.

Portrait of the Doge Leonardo Loredan by Vittore Carpaccio, 1501.

Leonardo Loredan was the doge of the Republic of Venice from 1501 until his death 1521, in the course of the War of the League of Cambrai. Upon the death of Pope Alexander VI in 1503, Venice occupied several territories in the northern Papal States. When Julius II was elected as Alexander’s eventual successor, the Venetians expected their seizure of papal territory to be tacitly accepted, as Julius had been nicknamed Il Veneziano for his pro-Venetian sympathies. But instead the new Pope excommunicated the Republic and united the Papal States in an alliance with France, the Holy Roman Empire and several other Christian states.

The Doge’s problems did not end in Europe. In 1509, the Battle of Diu took place, in India, where the Portuguese fleet defeated an Ottoman and Mameluk fleet, which had been transferred from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea with Venetian help. The defeat marked the end of the profitable Spice trade, which was bought by Venetians from the Mameluks in Egypt and in turn monopolised its sale in Europe, reaping great revenues from it.

Portrait of Lina Cavalieri by Giovanni Boldini, 1901.

Lina (Natalina) Cavalieri was born on Christmas Day 1874 in Viterbo. She lost her parents at the age of fifteen and became a ward of the state, sent to live in a Roman Catholic orphanage. She soon ran away, to Paris. Blessed with beauty and a good singing voice, she obtained work as a singer at one of the city’s café-concerts. She performed at a variety of music halls and other such venues around Europe, while working to develop her voice.

In 1900, she made her opera debut in Lisbon, as Nedda in Pagliacci and married the Russian Prince Alexandre Bariatinsky. In 1905, she starred opposite Enrico Caruso in Umberto Giordano’s opera Fedora at the Sarah Bernhardt Theater in Paris. She was at the height of her career, known for her grace and beauty as well as for her voice.

Oswolt Krel was the representative of the Great Ravensburg Trading Company in Nuremberg from 1494 to 1503. Albrecht Dürer painted his portrait, which is actually the centerpiece of a sort of triptych, in 1499.

Portrait of Pope Clemens IX by Carlo Maratta.

Giulio Rospigliosi, who took the name Clemens IX, was Pope for only two and a half years, from June 1667 to December 1669. He was an accomplished man of letters, who wrote poetry, dramas and libretti, as well as what may be the first comic opera. He was a patron of Nicolas Poussin, commissioning A Dance to the Music of Time from him and dictating its iconography.

Tommaso Portinari managed the Bruges branch of the Medici Bank from 1465 to 1478. In 1470, when he was about forty-two, he married fourteen year old Maria Maddalena Baroncelli. Probably on this occasion he commissioned Hans Memling to paint a portable triptych with the Virgin and Child on the center panel and portraits of himself and his wife in the wings.

James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, 1647, aged 17.
Portrait by Daniel Mytens the Elder.

Andrea Sacchi: Marc’Antonio Crowned by Apollo (1641)

The castrato Marc’Antonio Pasqualini was the leading male soprano of his day. He joined the choir of the Sistine Chapel in 1630, and from 1632 was a protagonist of many operas produced at the Palazzo Barberini. His right hand rests on the keys of an upright harpsichord, which is decorated with a figure of Daphne and a bound satyr.

The figure of Apollo in the center is loosely based on the Apollo Belvedere. Behind him is a figure of Marsyas tied to a tree with his bagpipes beside him. It was widely accepted in antiquity that the sound of a kithara was more “intellectual” and therefore superior to that of the pipe, and in the present picture the wreath of laurels over Pasqualini’s head is probably intended to celebrate not only his triumphs, but the triumph of the nuova musica, with its emphasis on the accompanied voice. The painting is therefore both a portrait and an allegory of music.

Andrea Sacchi was the leading classical painter in Rome at the time. He was on terms of intimacy with Nicolas Poussin, whose style the present work recalls. (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti drew this chalk portrait of his sister Christina in September 1866, when she was thirty-five years old. In that year, she published her second volume of poetry, Prince’s Progress and Other Poems. She received a proposal of marriage from a reclusive Dante scholar and former pupil of her father, Charles Bagot Cayley. To judge from a series of love poems written in Italian (Il Rosseggiar dell’ Oriente), which William found in her writing desk after her death, Rossetti loved Cayley very deeply. But she refused him after she “enquired into his creed and found he was not a Christian.” She never married.