Vincenzo di Biagio Catena, Italian, c.1470-1531 and
Title: Giorgio Cornaro (1452-1527) and his Son Francesco Cornaro (1478-1543)
Date: c.1520-1530 and c.1510-1520
Medium: Oil on wood panel
63 x 98 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1867
Object Number: NGI.100
DescriptionIn the past, the two personages seen in this picture were believed to be the poets Andrea Navagero and Agostino Beazzano. We now know that this identification was incorrect because of a painting by Raphael in which the two men appear quite dissimilar.

The authorship of the picture has also cause puzzlement. While the young man on the right, wearing the coat of some religious confraternity, appears to have been convincingly executed by Vincenzo Catena, the man on the left, probably a representative of the Venetian oligarchy, seems to have been painted by a competent, different artist. Although collaboration between different painters is common, it seems that this picture may have been started by one artist and finished by another. However, both sitters share a formal appearance and, even if dressed differently, they both seem to wear ceremonial costumes as though protagonists in a particular social event.

Nothing is known about the origins of Vincenzo Catena. We presume that he was born in Venice. For a long time he was an eclectic follower of Giovanni Bellini. He appears to have had many friends in Venetian humanist circles. His later contact with Giorgione was very important and, after that artist's death, he developed a style which largely reflects Giorgione's manner.

(National Gallery of Ireland: Essential Guide, 2008)

ProvenanceCardinal Fesch; Palazzo Ricci, Rome, 17 March 1845 and following, Cardinal Fesch sale, bt. Aguado; bought by Pourtales; presented to Delaroche; Delaroche sale, bt. M.M. Auguiot; purchased, M.M. Auguiot, Paris, 1867
Exhibition HistoryOld Masters Exhibition, Burlington House, London, 1883

Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1883

A collection of pictures of the Early Venetian School, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1912
Label TextThis unusual double portrait was painted by two artists at different times: Vincenzo Catena on the right and an unidentified follower of Titian, on the left. Recent research has identified the older man as Giorgio Cornaro (1452-1527), a rich Venetian merchant and politican. He wears the black cap and cloth of gold mantle, with fur-lined sleeves, of a Podestà in the Venice government. The other man is his eldest son, Francesco Cornaro (1478-1543), in the uniform of an unidentified confraternity. He was initially a soldier and diplomat, later taking up a religious career. His father bought him the position of Cardinal in 1527. The red hat of his office was added after that to this much earlier portrait.
InscriptionNavagero et Beazzanno Poetes (on reverse)