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Gentleman with a Gold Chain
Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti
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Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti

Venice, 1518 - Venice, 1594

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Gentleman with a Gold Chain

Ca. 1555. Oil on canvas. Room 041

The Nobleman with the Golden Chain is the finest portrait by Jacopo Tintoretto at the Museo del Prado and one of that painter’s most outstanding, overall. While historians disagree about its chronology, the artist’s mastery of both the model’s anatomy and his relation to the surrounding space link it to his so-called portraits in motion from the 1550s. In fact, it is even more sophisticated and efficient than the latter works, as there are no excessive gestures and the twisting body and face are enough to generate a sense of movement that contrasts considerably with the static portraits of the late 1540s.

The absence of exaggerated gestures, a neutral background and strong lighting from the left place this portrait’s expressive weight on the face, which is one of Titoretto’s most powerful. As was customary, it receives particular attention, and while the model is not an old man, his age is marked by his baldness, the deep wrinkles around his eyes and the grey hairs in his beard. Technically, the dense brushstrokes that make up the flesh tones contrast with the lighter, more superficial ones on the hair. The hands are rendered in a surprisingly meticulous fashion that leaves the muscles and veins clearly visible. They may well be the best of any in Titoretto’s portraits. The palette is quite limited, although the artist skillfully exploits the possibilities of the figure’s black clothing by punctuating it with a white collar and cuffs and a gold chain.

Numerous and improbable identities have been ventured for The Nobleman with the Golden Chain, including artists Paolo Veronese or Leone Leoni. The most acceptable was suggested by Pinessi, who considered it a likeness of Venetian aristocrat Nicolò Zen (1515-1565). Whoever he may be, the sitter’s elegant black suit, gloves and gold necklace indicate that he was clearly a distinguished individual.

This work comes from Spain’s Royal Collection and was inventoried at the Galería del Mediodía in Madrid’s Alcázar Palace in 1666. It may be one of the portraits that treatise writer Antonio Palomino mentioned as having been acquired by Velázquez in Venice during the latter’s second trip to Italy. Between 1700 and 1734 its original rectangular format was reduced to an oval, reflecting the new, reigning taste at the Spanish court. That was only a passing trend, however, and by the time it was inventoried at Madrid’s Royal Palace in 1772, it had recovered its original appearance.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage: Museo del Prado, 2011, p.78-79

Technical data

Related artworks

El caballero de la cadena de oro
Taille douce: etching and engraving on wove paper, 1791 - 1800
Inventory number
Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti
Gentleman with a Gold Chain
Ca. 1555
Height: 103.7 cm.; Width: 76.7 cm.
Royal Collection (Real Alcázar, Madrid, galería del mediodía, 1700, nº 56; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza de comer, 1794, nº 117; Palacio Real, Madrid, pieza de comer, 1814-1818, nº 117).

Bibliography +

Osmaston, F.P.B., The art and genius of Tintoret, G.Bell and Sons Ltd., Londres, 1915, pp. 23, 213.

Allende-Salazar, Juan., Retratos del Museo del Prado: identificación y rectificaciones, Julio Cosano, 1919, pp. 98-99.

Bercken, Erich von der, Jacopo Tintoretto, I, R.Piper, 1923, pp. 58, 259.

Pittaluga, Mary, Il Tintoretto, Nicola Zanichelli, Bolonia, 1924, pp. 274.

Fosca, François, Tintoret, Albin Michel, Paris, 1929, pp. 71.

Berenson, B., Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. A list of the Principal Artists and their works, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1932, pp. 561.

Berenson, B, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento. Catalogo dei principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi, Milano, 1936, pp. 482.

Les chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée du Prado, Holbein, Basilea, 1939, pp. 36.

Noul, M., Sotomayor, F., Muguruza, P., Les chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée du Prado, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1939.

Bercken, Erich von der, Die Gemälde des Jacopo Tintoretto, R. Piper & co., 1942, pp. 52,114, n.188.

Tietze, Hans, Tintoretto. The Paintings and Drawings, Phaidon, 1948, pp. 355.

Berenson, Bernard, Italian pictures of the renaissance: list of the principal artists and their works with and index of places :Venetian school, I, Phaidon, London, 1957, pp. 175.

Berenson, B, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento. Elenco dei principali artisti e delle loro opere La scuola veneta, 1, Firenze, 1958, pp. 180.

Pallucchini, R., Tintoretto, in, XIII, Venezia-Roma, 1965, pp. col. 947.

Vecchi, Pierluigi de, L' opera completa del Tintoretto, Milano, 1970, pp. 98.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Rossi, Paola, Jacopo Tintoretto: i ritratti, Alfieri, 1973, pp. 49-50.

Rossi, Paola, Jacopo Tintoretto: i ritratti, Alfieri, Venecia, 1973, pp. 66, 112/lám. 116.

Bernari, Carlo, La obra pictorica completa de Tintoretto, Noguer, Barcelona, 1974.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: pintura italiana anterior a 1600, Gredos, Madrid, 1979, pp. 218-219.

De Tena, C. Mena, M., The Prado Museum.Guide To Its Collections, Ministerio de Cultura, 1983, pp. 248.

Estampas de la Calcografía Nacional: la Coleccion Real de pi, AyuntamientoCalcografía NacionalConsejería de Cult, Madrid, 1984, pp. 28.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 687.

Rossi, Paola, Tintoretto : i ritratti, Electa, 1990, pp. 50, 94 L. 116, XII n. 73.

Gállego, J., Jacopo Robusti 'Tintoretto', Veintitrés biografías de pintores, 1992, pp. 111.

El Real Alcázar de Madrid: dos siglos de arquitectura y cole, Comunidad de MadridNerea, Madrid, 1994, pp. 281.

Jacopo Tintoretto. Ritrati, Electa, Milano, 1994, pp. 116, n 19.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Tiziano y la monarquía hispánica: usos y funciones de la pintura veneciana en España (siglos XVI y XVII), Nerea, 1994, pp. 281.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Tiziano y la monarquía hispánica: usos y funciones de la pintura veneciana en España (siglos XVI y XVII), Nerea, Madrid, 1994, pp. 281, n. 76.

Serena Tronca, Maria, Le collezione di Leone leoni e le sue impicazioni culturali, Leone Leoni tra Lombardia e Spagna: atti del Convegno Internazionale., Milano, 1995, pp. 37, nº 41.

Rearick, William R., Reflections on Tintoretto as portraitist, Artibus et historiae, 31, 1995, pp. 55-56.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds Mercator Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 255.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura italiana del Renacimiento: guía, Museo del Prado, Aldeasa, Madrid, 1999, pp. 232.

Enciclopedia del Museo del Prado, II, T.F. Editores: Fundación Amigos, Madrid, 2006, pp. 579.

Pinessi, O, Tiziano. Ritrato di Nicolò Zen: Prove di riconoscimento, Arte documento, 22, 2006, pp. 145-157 [152-153].

Falomir, Miguel (editor), Tintoretto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 282-285.

Pinessi, O, Tintoretto e gli Zen. 'El caballero de la cadena de oro': Nicolò Zen, Arte documento, 23, 2007, pp. 104-121.

Bouza, Fernando, De Rafael a Ribera y de Nápoles a Madrid. Nuevos inventarios de la colección Medina de las Torres-Stigliano (1641-1656), Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXVII, 2009, pp. 44-71.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage: Museo del Prado, 2011, pp. 78-79.

Pinessi, Orietta, Nicolò Zen tra Tiziano e Tintoretto: storia di un riconoscimento., Ikonos, Treviolo., 2011, pp. 75.

Attardi, Luisa, 'Ritratto di gentiluomo con la catena d' oro'. In, Tintoretto, Skira, 2012, pp. 172-175, nº 26.

Martínez Leiva, Gloria; Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666. Felipe IV y su colección artística, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2015, pp. 490 nº 707.

Tintoretto 1519-1594, Marsilio,, 2018, pp. 154, 253 f.132.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Alcázar de Madrid, 1701-1703. Núm. 56.
Galeria del Mediodia [...] 56 / Ytten Ottros dos Rettratos Uno de Un hombre Con Vna Cadenilla de Oro y otro de Vna muger de mano de tinttoretto Con marcos negros tasados a treinta Doblones Cada Vno ... 60

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 117.
Pieza de comer [...] {32} 85, 42, 46 y 117 / Quatro retratos de hombres y mugeres desconocidos à excepción del uno que es Ticiano, de quien son hechos todos á cinco mil rs. cada uno importa ... 20.000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 117.
Pieza de Comer [...] {21164-21165} 85 y 117 / Dos hombres desconocidos vara y media alto vara ancho = lo mismo que el 25

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 645.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 645.
Tintoretto. / 645. Retrato de hombre. / Tiene barba y cabellos castaños, frente espaciosa, trage negro con cadena de oro al cuello, vueltas blancas y guantes en la mano derecha. (figura de medio cuerpo.) (C.N.) / Alto 3 pies, 8 pulg, 3 lin; ancho 2 pies, 8 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 412.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 378.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 378.

Exhibitions +

Tintoretto 500th Anniversary
Washington D.C.
24.03.2019 - 17.07.2019

Tintoretto 500th Anniversary
07.09.2018 - 06.01.2019

Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto
24.02.2012 - 10.06.2012

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

30.01.2007 - 13.05.2007

Jacopo Tintoretto - I ritrati
31.07.1994 - 30.10.1994

Jacopo Tintoretto - I ritrati
26.03.1994 - 10.07.1994

Location +

Room 041 (On Display)


Displayed objects +



Update date: 01-10-2020 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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