Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus (born about 1446, died 1506)

Sebastiano del Piombo1519/1519

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City, United States

Painted in Rome by one of the outstanding Venetian masters of the High Renaissance, this badly damaged portrait purports to show Christopher Columbus. The inscription identifies him as "the Ligurian Colombo, the first to enter by ship into the world of the Antipodes 1519," but the writing is not entirely trustworthy and the date 1519 means that it cannot have been painted from life, as Columbus died in 1506. There are other, quite different, portraits that also claim to show Columbus. Nonetheless, from an early date our picture became the authoritative likeness. In 1814 the painting was part of the collection of Prince Talleyrand and was exhibited at the Palais Royal in Paris.


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