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Pietro Manna, Physician from Cremona
Anguissola, Lucia
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Anguissola, Lucia

Cremona (Italy), 1536 - Cremona (Italy), 1565

See author's file

Pietro Manna, Physician from Cremona

1557. Oil on canvas.
On display elsewhere

This portrait signed by Lucia Anguissola is acknowledged as the most important of the few works produced by Sofonisba’s younger sister. In keeping with Lombard painting of the period, she depicts this bald, bearded, ageing gentleman in the immediate foreground, seated in an armchair and turning slightly to gaze inquisitively at the spectator. He is dressed in a roomy gown with puffed sleeves tapering at the wrist and a brown fur trimming, probably otter. In his left hand he holds the staff of Asclepius, which, like his clothing, is an unmistakeable symbol of his doctor’s profession. The two books lying on a nearby table behind him are the only detail that gives an idea of the setting.

There are close similarities between Lucia’s painting and Campi’s Castellano Cotta (signed and dated 1553) in the compositional arrangement and sense of colour, as well as in an expressive device that is also found in Sofonisba’s Giovanni Battista Caselli: the left eyebrow is slightly raised to emphasise the sitter’s vivacity. As in Bernardino’s painting, here the textures of the clothing and hair and the facial features are meticulously rendered. In keeping with Sofonisba’s subtle pictorial construction, however, Lucia creates an enveloping atmosphere with a softer appearance than Campi’s more homogeneous lighting. Despite a few flaws in the perspectival drawing of the armrests, the details are executed with surprising care; some are particularly expressive, such as the serpent -with a menacing, live presence- entwined around the staff. The painstaking depiction of its scaly skin and head emphasise the psychological intensity conveyed by the facial expression of the physician, who strikes us as a perceptive, keen observer whose eyes are as penetrating as those of the reptile that symbolises him.

Vasari identified this doctor as Pietro Maria, whom scholars linked to Bianca Ponzoni, the mother of Sofonisba and her siblings. Indeed, this helped account for the sitter’s "familiar" air and the very existence of the portrait. However, the true identity of the doctor was established in 1994 by Rossana Sacchi, who ruled out the existence of a Pietro Maria in the middle of the century but was able to document that of the physician Pietro Manna, a member of a prominent local family possibly related to the Ponzoni, who died on 17 August 1560. Sacchi furthermore noted the resemblance between this likeness and that of Manna in an anonymous medal struck in 1550. Perhaps Vasari -or possibly the editor of the second edition of the Lives- misspelled the physician’s name (mistaking Manna for Maria), giving rise to longstanding confusion.

It is not known when and under what circumstances the portrait found its way to Spain. Amilcare Anguissola probably sent it to Philip II in order to carry on enjoying royal favour. In 1686 it was recorded as being in the Real Alcázar and, following the fire that ravaged the royal household, it passed to the Buen Retiro palace, where it was attributed to the Venetian school and only later to Lucia (1794: "Lucia Anguisola Veneciana)". In 1857 it was listed in an inventory of the Prado (Lucia "Anguisola or Angociola)".

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, 'Lucia Anguissola. Pietro Manna, médico de Cremona' En:. Historia de dos pintoras: Sofonisba Anguissola y Lavinia Fontana, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2019, p.124-125 n.17


Technical data

Inventory number
Anguissola, Lucia
Pietro Manna, Physician from Cremona
Height: 96 cm; Width: 76 cm
Royal Collection (Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza interior triangulada, 1747, nº 383; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, cuarto del infante don Luis-pinturas apeadas, 1772, nº 383; Buen Retiro, 1794, nº 1287).

Bibliography +

Inventario R. Palacio Nuevo. Nº 16757, Madrid, 1794.

Palomino de Castro y Velasco, Acisclo Antonio, El Museo Pictorico y Escala Optica. Vol. I y II, Aguilar, Madrid, 1947, pp. 250.

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

Harris, Ann Sutherland, Women Artist, 1550-1950, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Ángeles, 1976, pp. 109-110.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 15.

Gregori, Mina, I Campi: cultura artistica cremonense del cinquecento, Electa, Milan, 1985, pp. 179 nº.1.17.

Caroli, Flavio, Sofonisba Anguissola e Le Sue Sorelle, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milán, 1987, pp. 152.

Perlingieri, I.S., Sofonisba Anguissola. The First Great Woman Artist of the Renaissance, Rizzoli, Nueva York, 1992, pp. 981/ lam.58.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 292.

Sofonisba Anguissola e le sue sorelle, Leonardo Arte, Cremona, 1994, pp. 284, 354-356.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds Mercator Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 224.

Castillo-Ojugas, Antonio, Una visita médica al Museo del Prado, You & Us, Madrid, 1998, pp. 15.

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, En: Realismo y espiritualidad. Campi, Anguissola, Caravaggio y y otros artistas cremoneses y españoles en los siglos XVI - XVIII, (Cat. exposición), Ayuntamiento de Castell d´Alaquàs, Castell D'Alaquàs, 2007, pp. 126.

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. 443 nº 573.

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, 'Lucia Anguissola. Pietro Manna, médico de Cremona' En:, Historia de dos pintoras: Sofonisba Anguissola y Lavinia Fontana, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2019, pp. 124-125 n.17.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 720.
Anguisola ó Angociola (Lucia) / 720 Retrato de Piermaria, celebre medico de Cremona. / Esta sentado en un sillon, y tiene puesto un balandran forrado de martas. A su derecha se ve una mesa con libros y tiene en la mano izquierda un baston con una culebra. / Alto 3 pies, 5 pulg; ancho 2 pies, 8 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 720.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 15.

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 383.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] Pieza interior triangulada [...] {10468} 383 / Vn retrato de vn varon con trage veneciano y en la mano derecha vn baston con vna culebra enroscada en el, de mano no conocida de vara y quarta de caida y vara de ancho quinientos rs.

Inv. Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1772. Núm. 383.
Quarto del Infante don Luis - de las apeadas [...] {15092} 383 / Medio cuerpo sentado y en la mano izquierda tiene un baston por el cual circula una culebra vara y quarta de alto poco manos de ancha [a lápiz= "Pier Maria del Angusola"]

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 1287.
Otra de Lucia Anguisola Veneciana con el retrato de un Medico: de vara y media quarta de alto y vara escasa de ancho ... 400

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

LVCIA ANGVISOLA AMILCARIS / F[ilia] · ADOLESCENS · F[ecit] [en el brazo izquierdo de la silla]
Signed. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Sofonisba - History's forgotten miracle
03.09.2022 - 15.01.2023

Historia de dos pintoras: Sofonisba Anguissola y Lavinia Fontana
22.10.2019 - 02.02.2020

La estética de la Edad Moderna en femenino
23.02.2012 - 02.09.2012

Realismo y Espiritualidad
29.03.2007 - 01.07.2007

Sofonisba Anguissola e la sue sorelle
Washington DC
07.04.1995 - 25.06.1995

Sofonisba Anguissola e la sue sorelle
15.01.1995 - 26.03.1995

Sofonisba Anguissola e la sue sorelle
17.09.1994 - 11.12.1994

Location +

Niva - Nivaagaard Collection (Temporary Exhibition)

Update date: 09-11-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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