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Portrait of Giovanni Battista Silva, Attributed to Carlo Francesco Nuvolone (61.79)

Portrait of Giovanni Battista Silva, Attributed to Carlo Francesco Nuvolone
Attributed to Carlo Francesco Nuvolone
(Italian, 1609-1661)
Portrait of Giovanni Battista Silva
ca. 1660
oil on canvas
(61.79 )
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Director's Comments
Probably painted about 1660, this portrait is on the one hand a simple, elegant composition, but on the other is fertile ground for interpretation and imagination. Silva is portrayed observing the social conventions of the day, ranging from dress appropriate to his social station to his physical posture, holding his hat at mid-torso in accordance with 17th century fashion. The portrayal is executed with a deft and delicate touch, and Silva appears to be newly arrived at his destination, a guest in another's home, his face animated with an energy and dynamism at odds with the polite stillness of his posture. The painting was part of a Samuel H. Kress Collection (K1183) given to the Museum in 1961.

Judith Mann, Curator of Early European Art at the St Louis Art Museum, has suggested that the portrait may actually be a more sophisticated composition, in which the note held by Silva is actually from the artist, and references the delivery of the portrait to Silva (Sue Mani), an event itself depicted in the portrait. This would create a complex set of relationships between subject, artist and viewer, inviting further speculation and interpretation on both this depiction in particular and exchanges between image, subject, artist and viewer in general.

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