Prospero Fontana was born in Bologna and received his early education at Innocenzo da Imola. Active in Genoa and then in Florence, where he worked on the frescoes in the Palazzo Vecchio. After returning to his hometown, he opened an art school. He was one of the predecessors of Ludovico and Agostino Carracci. His style was eclectic and his early work in particular blends classicist Raphaelist painting with the new expressive Mannerism associated with Tuscan culture brought about by Giorgio Vasari.
The painting depicting a half-length figure of Christ in three-quarter view was created between 1540 and 1550. Jesus wears a purple tunic adorned with gold and a green cloak over his shoulders. The head is slightly inclined towards the right shoulder and his long brown hair flows over his shoulders. Above his head shines a halo. The painting is a smaller version of a work with the same subject that sold at Christie’s in Milan in 2011. In addition to the color range, the paintings share similarities in the position of the figure, his facial expression, and the modelling of the cloak.
(expert opinion: Alessandro Delpriori, PhD, Università di Firenze)