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Girolamo Fracastoro (1476/8–1553), a celebrated medical doctor, as well as an astronomer, mathematician and poet, proposed the theory of contagion and in 1530 wrote an epic poem that gave the name ’syphilis' to the virulent, sexually transmitted disease that was ravaging Italy in that period.
The sitter’s dynamic pose, turning to look at us over his shoulder with his arm resting on a parapet, is reminiscent of Titian’s Portrait of Gerolamo (?) Barbarigo of about 1510, also in the National Gallery.
probably 16th century
Oil on canvas
H 92.4 x W 72.4 cm
Mond Bequest, 1924