Profile Portrait of a Young Man (c. 1425) by Masaccio

Profile Portrait of a Young Man - Masaccio - 1423 - 1425

Artwork Information

TitleProfile Portrait of a Young Man
Date1423 - 1425
Dimensions16 5/8 x 12 3/4 in. (42 x 32 cm)
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About Profile Portrait of a Young Man

The artwork titled “Profile Portrait of a Young Man,” created by the artist Masaccio between 1423 and 1425, is a portrait executed on wood. As an exemplar of the Early Renaissance art movement, it measures 16 5/8 x 12 3/4 inches (42 x 32 cm) and presently resides at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The genre of this piece is portraiture, which captures the visage of an individual, in this case, a young man.

The artwork displays a young man in profile, his face captured with a semblance of naturalism indicative of Renaissance portraiture. The sitter wears a vivid orange-red turban, which stands out boldly against the muted background, and his attention appears to be directed toward something outside of the frame, suggesting contemplation or engagement with the off-canvas space. The artist’s use of color demonstrates a controlled but impactful palette, with the red tones of the turban and garment providing a stark contrast to the more subdued hues of the man’s features and the sparsely detailed setting. The rendering of the subject’s attire, particularly the fold of the fabric in the turban and the soft highlights on the collar, underscores Masaccio’s skillful manipulation of light and texture to create a sense of volume and dimensionality.

One must note the reserved but calculated delineation of the facial features, typical of the Early Renaissance attempt to recreate lifelike human expression and form. This portrait exemplifies the period’s departure from the stylized and symbolic representations of the earlier medieval era towards a more rounded and faithful portrayal of human subjects.

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