The Profile Portrait of a Young Man is an artwork that is currently displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It is attributed to Masaccio, although this attribution is disputed. Completed in 1425, the painting showcases a side profile of an unknown subject wearing a chaperon.
What makes this artwork extraordinary is its portrayal of the subject’s remarkable presence. Masaccio typically portrayed biblical scenes, so this painting’s style differs from his usual work. The use of tempera on panel enhances the artwork’s texture and creates a balanced composition.
The painting’s significance lies in its realistic and innovative approach to portraiture. The subject’s expression and gaze convey a sense of realism that was uncommon in portrait painting during the Renaissance era. Additionally, the painting’s presentation and the composition provide a sense of depth, which is unusual for profile portraits. These elements establish Masaccio’s artwork as one of the earliest known examples of Renaissance portraiture.
In summary, the Profile Portrait of a Young Man is a fascinating artwork that showcases Masaccio’s approach to portraiture, which was innovative during its time. Its use of tempera on panel creates an excellent composition, enhancing the artwork’s texture. Furthermore, the painting’s portrayal of the subject’s presence, realism, and depth establishes it as an early form of Renaissance portraiture.