A Venetian procurator

One of the earliest commissioned portraits to feature spectacles.

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Painting of a Venetian Procurator

A Venetian Procurator
Style of Palma Giovane
(after Tintoretto)
c.1610-1620

Around the 1610s and 1620s it became more common for important secular persons to be depicted wearing spectacles. We are clearly witnessing a profound social shift whereby spectacles ceased to denote bodily decay or moral depravity and became instead a badge of intellect and status, as indeed they had been much earlier in some religious painting. Some people, like the sitter in our portrait of A Venetian Procurator clearly made a conscious decision to be shown in this way.

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