Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati
|Artist||Jan van Eyck|
|Type||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||34 cm × 27.5 cm (13 in × 10.8 in)|
|Location||Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna|
Niccolò Albergati was a diplomat working under Pope Martin V. During a peace congress in Antwerp, he met van Eyck, who portrayed him in a drawing in which the artist added notes on the colors in order to execute a later painting portrait. The drawing is now in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen of Dresden, Germany.
The cardinal is portrayed from three-quarters, as was usual in Flemish painting since as early as the 1430s, on a dark background which enhances the figure, which is instead subject to a bright light source.
As common in van Eyck's work, attention to detail is maximum, thanks to his technique using successive layers of colors diluted with oil, which allowed him deep effects of transparency and lucidity. Comparison with the preparatory drawing shows that van Eyck changed several realistic details, such as the depth of the shoulders, the lower curve of the nose, the depth of the mouth and mainly the size of the ear, perhaps to strengthen the impression of seniority and, consequently, of authority of the cardinal.
- Pächt, Otto (2000). Van Eyck and the Founders of Early Netherlandish Painting. New York: Harvey Miller.