Art UK, a charity with a website showcasing artworks in UK public collections, runs the Art Detective forum where specialists and members of the public are invited to help fill in gaps in the knowledge of public art. Their latest question concerns this striking portrait .
Bonito was known for his portraits of the Neapolitan royal family and nobility. The sitter is dressed in an elaborate silk waistcoat, showing a design for his own tomb monument. He is described as a ‘gentleman architect’ but this is by no means certain.
The epitaph for the tomb (detail above), Dalla cuna alla Tomba e un breve passo, is the closing verse of Miseria della vita Umana by Neapolitan poet Giovanbattista Marino (1569-1625). We do not know whether the monument was ever built, or survives.
On the marble-topped table are a pair of dividers, another implement (possibly a measuring staff) and a map marked up in orange, implying a connection with the subject’s main area of achievement.
Visit artuk.org/artdetective and post your comments or write to ATG via the usual channels.
Art Detective is a network run by manager Marion Richards, who works with 22 subject specialist group leaders. It was designed with guidance from Tate, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery and funded by Arts Council England, with later funding from the National Gallery Trust.