Portrait of a Gentleman (Michel de l’Hospital)

Giovanni Battista Moroni1554

Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana

Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana
Milano, Italy

In Roman numerals on the fragment of stone at the bottom right we see the date when Giovan Battista Moroni finished this portrait: 1554. It shows a gentleman, full-length, leaning on the plinth of a column, on which we see a Latin phrase taken from Horace: Impavidum ferient ruinae (“Ruins would strike him undismayed”). This motto has made it possible to make a hypothesis about the identity of the sitter: it might be Michel de l’Hospital, the representative of the King of France at the Tridentine Council (1547-1548), who did indeed use this phrase from Horace as his own personal motto, even though it was fairly common in sixteenth-century France. The painting is remarkable for its attention to detail, from the sitter’s garments through to the subtle play of shadows.


  • Title: Portrait of a Gentleman (Michel de l’Hospital)
  • Creator: Giovan Battista Moroni
  • Date Created: 1554
  • Physical Dimensions: 185 x 115 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Art Genre: Portrait
  • Art Movement: 16th century painting
  • Art Form: Painting
  • Support: Canvas
  • Depicted Topic: Portrait, gentleman, fur, inscription, motto

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