Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506)

Think that you may own a portrait of Christopher Columbus? We authenticate, appraise and issue Certificates of Authenticity (COA) for all portraits of Christopher Columbus.

Alejo Fernandez, Columbus
Christopher Columbus by Alejo Fernandez

Christopher Columbus was a navigator and colonialist who is one of the first Europeans to discover the Americas, after the Vikings. Though not the first to reach the Americas from Europe, it was Columbus' voyages that led to general European awareness of the hemisphere and the successful establishment of European cultures in the New World. It is generally believed that he was born in Genoa, although other theories exist. The name Christopher Columbus is the Anglicization of the Latin Christophorus Columbus. Also well known are his name's rendering in modern Italian as Cristoforo Colombo and in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón.

Lorenzo Lotto, Columbus
Christopher Columbus by Lorenzo Lotto

Columbus' voyages across the Atlantic Ocean began a European effort at exploration and colonization of the Western Hemisphere. While history places great significance on his first voyage of 1492, he did not actually reach the mainland until his third voyage in 1498. He actually discovered the island by accident, while trying to find an alternative route to India, hence the Native Americans being called "Indians" Likewise, he was not the earliest European explorer to reach the Americas, as there are accounts of European transatlantic contact prior to 1492. Nevertheless, Columbus's voyage came at a critical time of growing national imperialism and economic competition between developing nation states seeking wealth from the establishment of trade routes and colonies.

 Columbus Engraving, artist unknown
Columbus, Artist Unknown

There were no portraits painted from life of the famous adventurer, so all of the images that we have of Columbus were painted from written descriptions. The best known and most beloved image is of an older Columbus in a hat and robe:

Sebastiano del Piombo, Columbus, 1530
Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo 1530

There were also a number of engravings created of Columbus, also based on physical descriptions:

 Columbus by Gaetano Guadagnini
Columbus by Gaetano Guadagnini

 Columbus Engraving, artist unknown
Engraving, artist unknown 2

 Columbus Engraving, artist unknown
Engraving, artist unknown 3

We will probably never know what this famed adventurer really looked like, despite the fact that his image has been widely popular through the centuries. The fascination with Columbus still remains today as many contemporary artists are also still trying to capture the image of this elusive explorer.

Francisco Borges Salas, Columbus
Contemporary Columbus Sketch by Francisco Borges Salas

Discoveries of Christopher Columbus paintings are still being made today, such as this one where Columbus is addressing the court:

 Columbus Addressing the Court
Columbus Addressing the Court

The fascination with Columbus still captures the hearts of collectors and artists alike, making it possible for a portrait or painting of this famed explorer to turn up anywhere. Still wondering about a portrait in your family collection? Contact could be a portrait of Christopher Columbus.