Giovanni Battista Moroni(1520/4 – 1578) began to practice painting focusing on paintings with religious themes, but the truth is that he would end up being dazzled by the his talent for portraiture. Obviously his first commissions in this sense were for powerful aristocratic characters whom he painted full-length and in a laudatory tone.
The Tailor by Giovanni Battista Moroni
However, towards the end of his life, it was a fairly widespread fashion that other lower social classes, such as the we althiest bourgeoisie or the most prestigious professionals, also had their portraits taken. And in that context we have to understand this portrait of a master tailor, for which even some historians suggest that perhaps it was a barter, a quality painting in exchange for an elegant suit.
The truth is that the work of extreme quality, it is enough to look at the realism of the garment that the tailor wears, in the detail of his instruments and in the proud expression with which he shows it to us. It would certainly be a promotional poster in the first order workshop of him.
But also pictorially, this work is the perfect definition of what a geometric structure is. The figure of the tailor is a triangle that occupies a large part of the canvas, and he chooses a three-quarter portrait that is perfectly adapted to the placement of the table, at an angle not parallel to the canvas. There he shows us one of themain tools of a tailor, the scissors, and a cloth, as if he had been surprised at work. And that attitude and that table serve to create a connection between the viewer and the portrayed person. It seems that we have also entered his workshop to order a garment from him.
He lifts his head and looks at us. That look with his right eye is the focal point of the painting. He places it on the vertical axis that runs down the center of the fabric, and which he also marks with the row of buttons.
All that geometry is hidden under the very human and realistic forms of the figure, but lines can be thrown and the whole structure of the painting is understood, which becomes an extremely effective portrait. Perhaps for this reason, over time the portraits of Moroni were greatly admired by English collectors of Italian art, who acquired many of his works. Such as this one, made around the year 1570 and which today is kept in the National Gallery in London.