M i n e r v a P r o t e c t r e s s o f t h e A r t s
In making commissioned portraits, artists must satisfy their clients' demands. With self-portraits, however, they can freely choose how to show themselves.
Wearing an aristocrat's wig, embroidered waistcoat, lace-trimmed shirt, and velvet jacket, Francesco de Mura presents himself here as a man of elegance and means. Indeed, he reinforced the grandeur of his image by inventing an opulent setting with billowing drapery, a colossal colonnade, and a marble-topped gold table.
De Mura emphasized his intellect by showing himself with his drawing instruments. Traditionally, drawing symbolized the cerebral and inventive qualities of an artist's conceptions, as opposed to the messy manual work of applying pigment to canvas.
On de Mura's portfolio lies a red chalk sketch of the Goddess Minerva, protectress of the arts, and proof of his knowledge of classical literature. By these means, he wanted to establish his social status as an educated gentleman, far from the lowly guild craftsman or artisan.
Oil on canvas, H.51 x W.40 in. overall
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Copyright ©1998-2001 Roy George