Richard Norton (1872–1918)
Antonio Mancini (1852–1930)
Rome, c. 1905
Oil on canvas
47 1/8 x 31 ½ in.
Bequest of Susan Norton, the sitter’s daughter
As a son of Harvard University professor Charles Eliot Norton, Richard Norton was destined to be cosmopolitan. He was the director of the American School of Classical Studies at Rome when he commissioned this portrait. Mancini was a daring choice: the Italian artist suffered from mental illness but was championed by John Singer Sargent, who introduced him to American patrons like Isabella Stewart Gardner.
Mancini’s colorful scratchings on Norton’s face are bold; even less conventional are the exuberant brushstrokes of lush foliage. In the photograph above, you can see his unique grid method of painting.