Portrait of Count Giambattista Serbelloni Sfondrati
Placido Fabris (1802-1859)
1848, Oil on canvas
The identity of the person depicted can be seen in the address on the envelope on the table: Monsieur le Comte Jean Baptiste Serbelloni Sfondrati à Milan. It is a letter from his brother, and the Milanese count is in the process of replying (we can read the date he has already written, ‘3 April 1848’). Count Serbelloni Sfondrati was the descendant of two noble Milanese families and heir to a great fortune, including the magnificent villa on Lake Como where he retired in the last period of his life. Beyond the sumptuous interior, a window opens onto a landscape showing the façade of the Venetian church of San Giorgio Maggiore and a small group of people. Fabris studied at the Academy in Venice, and soon made a name for himself in the competitions held there; he painted mythological subjects and made copies of paintings by great masters of the past for illustrious patrons, but he was known primarily as a portrait painter. In this painting, beyond the fine rendering of the luxuriousness of the iridescent fabric of the robe, the marbled silk on the back of the armchair and the refined details of the furniture, Fabris has managed to produce an intelligently composed likeness in which the intensity of the character's gaze stands out.