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Courageous despite fear

Posted November. 10, 2022 07:48,   

Updated November. 10, 2022 07:48


A young, well-dressed soldier holding a thin halberd stands in front of a fortress. With a young face and slim body, he takes a confident, almost arrogant pose. This portrait was auctioned at Christie’s in 1989 and sold for 32.5 million U.S. dollars, setting a record for classical art at that time. Whose portrait was this?

Jacopo Pontormo (1494-1557), a painter in Florence, Italy, worked for the Medici and created many religious paintings and portraits of noble families. This painting depicts a young soldier of Florence. He is wearing an ivory top and red hat, with red armor below his waist. He has a long sword on his waist, holding a thin halberd, spear, and ax in his right hand.

Experts are divided in determining who the model is. When the Getty Museum acquired this portrait in 1989, the man in the portrait had been known as Cosimo the First, the duke of Florence. The portrait was assumed to be created after Cosimo the First achieved victory in the Montemurlo battle. If this is true, the man in the portrait would be 18. A Medici, one of the greatest families of the Renaissance, the strongest power in authority, and a masterpiece by a well-known painter would be the perfect combination for a valuable painting.

Recently, however, many have been more inclined to Italian Renaissance Master Giorgio Vasari’s views. According to Vasari, the man in the painting is Francesco Guardi, a young soldier from a noble family. He had been 15 years old when Florence was entirely seized by war in 1529. He had joined the war at a young age to fight for his community.

Pontormo aims to display the complex emotions of the young nobleman. His dignified and confident pose reflects the pride and duty of a soldier, while his expressionless face hints at terror and fear of death as a youth. Perhaps this is the reason we feel empathy and beauty toward the young man who summoned the courage to fight for his country despite fear.