Saturday, September 12, 2009

Department of Manly Beauty: Bindo Altoviti

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Susan reports:

Bindo Altoviti (1491-1556, painted by Raphael about 1515)

Fabio notwithstanding, gorgeous blonde guys are few and far between in Western male portraits.  But this picture of Bindo Altoviti, a wealthy young Florentine who was a prominent Renaissance banker (!) and art patron, certainly makes a case for fair-haired gentlemen.  In fact, the story behind this portrait is so shamelessly romantic, that I'm quoting at length from the National Gallery of Art's web page:

[In the portrait, Bindo]"turns in a dramatic, almost theatrical, way to fix the eye of the viewer. Perhaps one viewer in particular was meant to receive his captivating look: Bindo's wife Fiammetta Soderini. Renaissance poets and courtiers were unanimous in believing that a person first fell in love through the eyes. They were called the guides of love, which could reveal the passion within more effectively than the tongue itself, or letter, or messengers. Bindo's flushed cheeks contribute to the impression of passion, and a ring is prominent on the hand he holds above his heart. The robe slipping from his shoulder reveals a bare nape caressed by soft curls. Their golden color would have underscored the nobility and purity of his love.

"Bindo and Fiammetta, daughter of a prominent Florentine family, were married in 1511, when Bindo would have been about twenty. The couple had six children, but Fiammetta continued to live in Florence while Bindo's business with the papal court required his presence in Rome. This portrait, which apparently hung in the couple's home in Florence, would have provided Fiammetta with a vivid reminder of her absent husband."



yvonne said...

Those eyes, those lips, that love story - bellissimo!

Loretta Chase said...

The Regency portraits looks so unromantic by comparison. I love this painting!

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

I love it, too! It's such an amazingly romantic portrait.

No matter what the time period, most European men had themselves painted to show off their military conquests, or big houses, or fast horses, or beautiful wife and children (like the earl yesterday.) That's how they want to be remembered for posterity. I can't think of another portrait that shows a young man who's not afraid to be all about LOVE -- and for his wife, too!

Bellissimo, indeed. :)

Vanessa Kelly said...

Sigh. That is such romantic story. I love golden-haired heroes.

Is it just me, or does he look a bit like a young Sly Stallone around the eyes? Before Sly got totally weird looking, I mean. I just kept thinking that there was something so modern looking about the eyes, and then the image of Stallone in his early movies leapt into my mind.

I know. I'm weird!

Unknown said...

Bindo Altoveti! I never imagined him like this. I only "know" him from his bronze bust at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston. There, his flowing beard and severe gaze impressed me. I am so glad to see a portrait of young Bindo!

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