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This image of an old man brings to mind the Italian teste di carattere or the Dutch troniesshowing a ‘type’ rather than an actual person. It is also reminiscent
of similar depictions of the heads of philosophers, saints and apostles
(often painted in series) known both from 17th- and 18th-century
Italian, as well as Northern schools. It may have been prepared—but
ultimately not used—by Bacciarelli for one of the historical paintings
or plafonds decorating the apartments in the Royal Castle.

According to Ludwik Hass however, the old bearded man in the Łazienki
painting is probably the same person whom Bacciarelli depicted as
Aristotle in the Allegory of Wisdom on one of his four overdoors of c. 1777 in the Old Audience Chamber at the Royal Castle in Warsaw (L. Hass, Sekta farmazonii warszawskiej. Pierwsze stulecie wolnomularstwa w Warszawie (1721–1821),
Warszawa 1980, figs. 21 and 22 and notes). According to Hass,
Bacciarelli gave Aristotle the features of Stanisław August’s former
tutor, Jean Luc Louis de Toux de Salvert. He is shown talking to his
pupil, young Alexander‒a symbolic figure of young Stanisław August.
The Łazienki portrait of an old man would therefore be a likeness of
Toux de Salvert.

Details

  • Title: Old Man in a Brown Habit
  • Creator: Marcello Bacciarelli
  • Date Created: before 1783
  • Location Created: The Palace on the Isle - Salle de Salomon, ground floor
  • Physical Dimensions: h 55,8 w 43,4
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: oil
  • Art Genre: portrait
  • Art Form: Painting
  • Support: canvas

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