Vincenzo di Biagio Catena, Italian, c.1470-1531 and
Title: Portrait of two Venetian Gentlemen
Date: c.1510
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 curious double portrait of unknown sitters was painted by two artists. The man on the right was painted by the Venetian artist Catena, while the man on the left appears to have been painted by a different, anonymous artist. Catena’s oeuvre comprised religious pictures and portraits of male sitters. The writer and historian Giorgio Vasari wrote that Catena was a ‘passing good painter’ who made some marvellous portraits of Venetian noblemen. Vasari was biased towards the art of Florence where artists prioritised disegno (drawing) over the Venetians’ preoccupation with colore (colour).
InscriptionNavagero et Beazzanno Poetes (on reverse)