Franz Xavier Kosler
1864 - 1905
Portrait of a man, as Giacomo Orlandi di Subiaco
Oil on canvas, laid on panel
61 × 49 cm. (24 ⅛ × 19 ¼ in.)
Signed lower right 'F. Kosler'
Framed Dimensions:71 x 59 cm. (27 7/8 x 23 1/4 in.)
Further information:Franz Kosler is one of the most celebrated Orientalist painters of his time, renowned for the remarkable human sensitivity with which he was able to capture the character and intimate dignity of his often anonymous sitters.
The characteristic features of the protagonist of this intense portrait, immediately recall those of a man called Giacomo Orlandi who lived in Subiaco, in the Roman countryside, in the second half of the 19th century. The name of the sitter is known to us thanks to a drawing by the German painter Johannes Niessen, who in 1847 inscribed a portrait of the same man 'Giacomo Orlandi di Subiaco'. Although we know very little about Orlandi's life, his face is very iconic: he was one of the most popular models for foreign artists in Rome in the 1840s and 1860s, often represented as a brigand or as a peasant by artists such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Anselm Feuerbach, Edgar Degas and many others.
The present canvas was likely painted after 1885, when Orlandi would have been an older man that he has been portrayed here. However, the striking similarities with his portraits from the 1860s, such as Feuerbach's and Degas', as well as the sensitive depiction of the sitter's attitude and personality, clearly suggest that Kosler depicted the sitter from life. Therefore this may be the last - somewhat idealised - portrait known of the popular Roman sitter, or another man whose defined physical characteristics enabled Kosler to revive the legendary figure of the Roman brigand that inspired so many of his older colleagues.