Gennaro Basile was born in Naples, but little is known about his early training, and he only found fame after moving to the Habsburg Empire in 1752. In this intriguing self-portrait Basile glances at us over his shoulder, brush in hand, as if we have just interrupted him at work. The identity of the lady he is painting is unknown, but she resembles the young Habsburg ruler Maria Theresa (1717-80), whom Basile might have met during his first stay in Hungary. The enigmatic mask squeezed in the right corner is probably an allegory of art.
Signed on the reverse: Genaro Basili.
Gennaro Basile Self-Portrait About 1752–1755 (?) © Compton Verney