Friday, 10 September 2010

M/M Raphael and the Beautiful Banker: The Story of the Bindo Altoviti Portrait

Review by Nicola Linza

David Allen Brown and Jane van Nimmen have produced a remarkable and scholarly study focusing on the history of a single Italian picture of a young banker, the Italian aristocrat Bindo Altoviti.

The famous painting portrays the haunting position captured while Altovini was turning his head, the young banker however does not appear frozen; he appears to be speaking to us today, as much as he must have appeared to be turning to speak to his Florentine bride, Fiammetta at the time of creation.

Bindo Altoviti sat five centuries ago for this portrait by the great artist Raphael. The resulting picture is of a very good-looking young man with flowing hair that plays on a dynamically unique interpretation and conception of picture plane. Both the young man portrayed, and the picture's interrelationships among the visual elements of space, time, force and energy have been the subject of debate and controversy ever since.

This volume by David Allen Brown and Jane van Nimmen provides a highly elegant and accurate account of the life of Bindo Altoviti, along with a detailed chronological outline of what has become the history surrounding the controversial yet fantastic image of a young Italian banker.