Portrait of Ferdinand of Bourbon
Attributed to Pietro Melchiorre Ferrari (1734/35-1787)
1787, Oil on canvas
On the verso of this painting, on a fragment of the canvas of the first lining, a 19th-century inscription reads: ‘Ferrarius Parmae pinxit 1757 Ferdinandus Hispaniarum infans Parmae Placentinae Guastallae dux etc’. The identity of the sitter, known from numerous other portraits, is confirmed by the inscription, which also corroborates the name of the artist, Pietro Melchiorre Ferrari, who was long in the service of the Bourbons. Ferrari attended the Parma Academy of Art, studying under Giuseppe Baldrighi; his style, which was also in tune with the French culture much appreciated by the Bourbon dukes, was immediately understood at court. He had already painted a portrait of Don Ferdinand of Bourbon (now in the Galleria Nazionale di Parma), a brilliant and refined work, which can be dated to around 1770. In the most famous portrait of Ferdinand, by Johann Zoffany, which dates back to 1778, his face appears aged and discoloured, as it does in this painting, which may have been adapted from one Ferrari had painted in 1784 to be sent to the King of Sweden for diplomatic reasons.