Help buy Portrait of a Young Man

The Art Gallery Society of NSW’s members have a 60-year tradition of acquiring artworks for the Art Gallery of New South Wales. To date the Society has purchased more than 230 works ranging across all of the Gallery’s collection areas.

In keeping with this tradition, the Society seeks members’ assistance to raise funds to purchase Giovanni Battista Moroni’s magnificent Portrait of a young man 1565/70.

'... this picture will become the greatest Renaissance portrait in the Gallery’s old master collection, and probably the greatest in Australia.

Moroni’s image is one of intense naturalism looking forward to 19th-century realism. The modest scale, bust-length format and lack of suggestive attributes are innovative features in Moroni’s work. They mark him out as one of the most progressive of 16th-century portrait painters. Although there are larger and more elaborate portraits by this artist in many of the world’s great picture collections, the intimacy of this portrait focuses attention on those features of the artist’s style which make him significant in the history of western portraiture. The painting is thus a characteristic example of an important movement in western European painting, one not currently represented in the Gallery’s collection and one that establishes a significant link between the 16th and 19th centuries.

It is important that the Gallery should acquire works of international stature and it can certainly be argued that this painting is an example of international quality. A closely comparable work is one of the great Moronis in the collection of the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, nearby the artist’s hometown. Renaissance paintings of his quality do not come on the market very often. This makes it an excellent acquisition for the Sydney collection.’

Richard Beresford
Senior curator of European art pre-1900
October 2013