The painting has been supposed to represent a poet for the figure has a book in his hands and there are laurels (with which poets were crowned) behind him. It probably dates from about 1516 when the poem 'Orlando Furioso' was published and achieved instantaneous fame, and so has been proposed as a portrait of the author, Lodovico Ariosto (1474 - 1533).

Ingres's 'Angelica saved by Ruggiero', in the Collection depicts a subject from Ariosto's work.


  • Title: Portrait of a Poet
  • Creator: Palma Vecchio
  • Date Created: about 1516
  • Physical Dimensions: 83.8 x 63.5 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas, transferred from wood, 1857, remounted on wood, 1916
  • School: Italian (Venetian)
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG636
  • Artist Dates: about 1480 - 1528
  • Artist Biography: Palma Vecchio, whose original name was Iacomo Negreti, was a 16th-century Venetian painter. Nothing is known of his training. Stylistically his work owes a considerable debt to bothTitian and Giorgione. 'A Blonde Woman' is related to Titian's famous picture of Flora in the Uffizi, Florence. Palma Vecchio came from the Bergamo area. He was first mentioned in 1510 in Venice, the city where he apparently worked for the rest of his life. Vasari said that he died at the age of 48 which would mean that he was born in about 1480. He is best known for two domestic types of painting he developed - the sacra conversazione in horizontal format and set in an extensive landscape, and the half-length pseudo-portraits of beautiful women.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1860

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