Overview

Who is this elegant lady? A noblewoman surely, and most likely a member of the court of Cosimo I de' Medici, Duke of Florence in the mid-sixteenth century. Her ornate and costly attire establish her as an aristocrat. She holds herself rigidly with the controlled demeanor that distinguishes portraits of members of Cosimo's court. Bronzino was the principal portraitist to the court, and one wonders how much his own coldly idealized, polished style of painting may, itself, have contributed to the taste for the marble-hard perfection and chilly hauteur of his models.

Tucked in the corner of the panel, the small blond boy was an afterthought, added by Bronzino in a second campaign of painting. X-radiography has revealed that the woman had first stood alone with her proper right hand placed against her dress. Not only did Bronzino insert the ivory-skinned child, but he also brought the woman's apparel up to date: her headdress grew larger and more elaborate; the puffed sleeves of her dress were broadened (a change evident in the darker silhouette of the contours that were painted over the green background); the gloves were added and, probably, the damask pattern on the bodice as well.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Possibly Baron Achille Seillière, Paris, until 1873;[1] probably by inheritance to Jeanne Marguérite Seillière, Princesse de Sagan, [later Duchesse de Talleyrand-Périgord], Paris, probably by 1873 until at least 1896.[2] (Cottier and Co., London and New York); sold 1905 to Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania;[3] inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; gift 1942 to NGA.

Exhibition History

2001
Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's 'Ginevra de' Benci' and Renaissance Portraits of Women, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2001-2002, no. 41, color repro.

Bibliography

1916
Berenson, Bernard, and William Roberts. Pictures in the Collection of P.A.B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania: Early Italian and Spanish Schools. Philadelphia, 1916: unpaginated, repro.
1923
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro.
1931
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 134, repro.
1942
Works of Art from the Widener Collection. Foreword by David Finley and John Walker. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 5.
1948
Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1948 (reprinted 1959): 20, repro.
1951
Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 69-71, repro.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): 37, repro. fig. 17, pl. 53
1960
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Later Italian Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1960 (Booklet Number Six in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 16, color repro.
1960
The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 6.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 307, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 20
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:138, color repro.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 13, repro.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 48, repro.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:91-93, II:pl. 61
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 39, pl. 22.
1982
Cox-Rearick, Janet. "Bronzino's Young Woman with Her Little Boy." Studies in the History of Art 12 (1982): 67-79, repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 69, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 100, repro.
2001
Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's Ginevra de' Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2001-2002: no. 41.

Technical Summary

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