Stop 19. Portrait of an Ambassador


Domenico Tintoretto (Italian, 1560–1635) and his workshop
Ca. 1600
Oil on canvas
50 x 40 inches (1270 x 1016 mm)
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1929


John Marciari, Charles W. Engelhard Curator of Drawings and Prints

The unidentified sitter in this portrait, painted in Venice in the workshop of Domenico Tintoretto, son of the more famous Jacopo, is believed to have been a North African ambassador to Venice. The sitter is dressed in European costume, although the white sash around his waist is not typical of Venetian dress. The rectangular package on the table next to him, likely a bundle of letters secured by a wax seal, may indicate his role as a diplomat or an envoy. According to contemporary sources, Domenico's studio was often visited by diplomats who wished to commission portraits.
The painting was purchased by Morgan’s son, Jack, in 1929 and is one of the few paintings he acquired that remain at the Morgan. In an effort to reduce his estate, and the inheritance taxes that would accompany it, Jack Morgan sold many of the paintings he inherited from his father in the 1930s and early 1940s, before his death in 1943.