After Filippo Mazzola’s Portrait of a Man

After Filippo Mazzola's Portrait of a ManCreator: Unidentified
Date: Unidentified
Dimensions: 9 x 7.5 inches
Date Acquired: 2016-03-07
From Where?: Geneva, Switzerland

Until a forensic test proves otherwise, this is believed to be an elaborate forgery that has cobbled together elements from various Renaissance portraits. The frame is more likely to be authentic.

As far as I know, there is no precedent for such a dramatic change in costume, background, and dimensions. Even the irises change color. But portrait variants exist-for example: Three Giuliano de Medicis by Sandro Botticelli. From an article by Stefan Weppelmann in The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini.


Filippo Mazzola’s Portrait of a Man is in the Pinacoteca di Brera. The panel size is 17.32″h x 11″l. The variant presented here is 35.4% of the Brera dimensions, a little over one-third the size.



The first thing I learned was that the frame has a metal label erroneously attributed to Piero della Francesca. Then in the photo below I found that the frame for Giovanni Bellini’s Descent of Christ into Limbo in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery had several identical moulds. Of the Bellini frame the following is said: “According to Nicholas Penny, National Gallery, the frame of the Bristol panting is an original Renaissance tabernacle frame which has been enlarged”

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 10.43.19 PM

Heraldry on the frame that remains unidentified:


Then I found that the curtains in the background are very similar to this portrait by Antonio da Crevalcore:

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 10.45.21 PM

Same with this version which seems to be given to Francesco del Cossa. Note the dramatic costume change, change of hair (ears covered), and lack of book and ring in the foreground:

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 10.46.31 PM

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