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Portrait of a Gentleman

Dosso Dossi (Giovanni de' Luteri), Italian (active Ferrara), first recorded 1512, died 1542

Made in Ferrara, Italy, Europe

c. 1520

Oil on canvas

35 1/16 x 46 1/2 inches (89.1 x 118.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 352, European Art 1500-1850, third floor (ARCO Gallery)

Accession Number:
Cat. 251

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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The identity of this gentleman is not known, but the picture suggests that his interests included science and the observation of natural phenomena such as unusual weather. He looks at an armillary sphere, an astronomer's instrument for mapping the heavens (barely visible at the edge of the painting), and points to a maze, which symbolizes the course of life on earth. In the background is a stormy landscape in which a bird, smoldering because it has been struck by lightning, lies aback a donkey. This odd scene may record a curious incident the gentleman had observed, but more probably has symbolic meaning that has yet to be explained.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.