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Overview

Both this panel of Ginevra Bentivoglio and the companion portrait of her husband, Giovanni II Bentivoglio, also in the National Gallery of Art, were created when the family was at the height of its power. Giovanni, a major political figure in northern Italy, ruled the city of Bologna from 1463 until his expulsion for tyranny in 1506. For the most part, Ginevra Bentivoglio is unemotional, and the lifeless gaze, masklike features, and impenetrable stare reveal little of the sitter's personality.

Renaissance profile portraits recalled the images of emperors and deities on the ancient Roman coins and medals that were so highly prized at the time. Moreover, the profile format, which isolates the sitter from the observer, was particularly appropriate to Giovanni's position as a strong-willed lord.

Ercole de' Roberti absorbed Francesco del Cossa's and Cosimo Tura's eccentric style; yet he was also aware of the meticulous realism of contemporary Flemish art, as is indicated by the lustrous pearls and gems so prominently displayed on Ginevra's sleeve. But the single most salient element in Ercole's style is his superior draftsmanship. An energetic yet nervous line describes the flowing contours of Ginevra's head, the swirling concentric rhythms of her hair, and the stiff, parallel folds of her kerchief.

Provenance

Acquired in Italy by Louis Charles Timbal [1821-1880], Paris, before 1871;[1] sold 29 November 1872 with his collection to Gustave Dreyfus [1837-1914], Paris;[2] his estate; sold 1930 with the entire Dreyfus collection to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold May 1936 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[3] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1940
Italian Renaissance Portraits, M. Knoedler and Company, New York, 1940, no. 9, repro.
1979
Berenson and the Coinnoisseurship of Italian Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, no. 55, repro.
2001
Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's 'Ginevra de' Benci' and Renaissance Portraits of Women, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2001-2002, no. 2B, color repro.
Bibliography
1886
Ephrussi, Charles. "Les Médailleurs de la Renaissance par M. Alöiss Heiss." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1886): 72, repro.
1887
Bode, Wilhelm von. "Die Ausbeute aus den Magazinen der Königlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Berlin." Jahrbuch der Königlish Preussischen Kunstsammlungen. 8 (1887):126
1888
Gruyer, Gustave. "Les Livres a gravures sur bois." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1888):428
1889
Bode, Wilhelm von. "La Renaissance au Musée de Berlin." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1889):117 as by Francesco del Cossa
1897
Gruyer, Gustave. L'Art Ferrarais a l'époque des Princes d'Este. Paris, 1897:120, as by Francesco del Cossa.
1901
Cook, Herbert. "Francesco Bianchi-Ferrar et la 'Madone' du Louvre." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 25 (1901):382, as Bianchi
1901
Venturi, Adolfo. Storia dell'Arte Italiana. 11 vols. Milan, 1901-1940: 7(1914): 653, repro,. as by Francesco del Cossa
1902
Cook, Herbert. "Trésors de l'art en Italien en Angleterre." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1902):452-453, repro. as attributed to Bianchi.
1905
Reinach, Salomon. Répertoire de peintures du moyen âge et de la Renaissance (1280-1580). 6 vols. Paris, 1905-1923: 3(1910):241, as by Francesco del Cossa.
1907
Berenson, Bernard. North Italian Painters of the Renaissance. New York and London, 1907: 218, as by Maineri or possibly Bianchi.
1908
Les Arts 73 (January 1908):10, repro., as by Francesco del Cossa.
1915
Cook, Herbert. "Further Light on Baldassare d'Este." The Burlington Magazine 27 (1915):98+ as by Baldassare d'Este
1918
Colasanti, Arduino. "The Presumed Portrait of Giovanni Bentivoglio in the Boston Museum". Art in America 6 (1918): 90, mention as by follower of Francesco del Cossa
1925
"La collection Gustave Dreyfus." L'Amour de l'art (1925):331, repro., as by Francesco del Cossa
1930
International Studio (August 1930): 65
1931
Mayer, August L. "Die Sammlung Gustave Dreyfus." Pantheon 7 (1931):11, repro.
1933
Venturi, Lionello. Italian Paintings in America. 3 vols. New York and Milan, 1933: 2:352, as by Francesco del Cossa.
1934
Longhi, Roberto. Officina Ferrarese. Rome, 1934:75, repro.; rev. ed. Florence, 1956:46-47, repro.
1937
Ady, Cecilia M. The Bentivoglio of Bologna: A Study in Depotism. Oxford, 1937:repro.
1940
Suida, Wilhelm. "Die Sammlung Kress, New York." Pantheon 26 (1940): 273, repro.
1941
Duveen Brothers. Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941: no. 64, repro., as by Francesco Cossa.
1941
Ortolani, Sergio. Cosmè Tura, Francesco del Cossa, Ercole de'Roberti. Milan, 1941:158, repro.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 170, no. 331.
1941
Richter, George Martin. "The New National Gallery in Washington." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 78 (June 1941): 178.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 246, repro. 179.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 56, color repro.
1944
Frankfurter, Alfred M. The Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1944: 33, repro.
1945
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 81, repro.
1945
Shapley, Fern Rusk. "A Portrait of Francesco Sforza." The Art Quarterly 8 (Winter 1945):37
1951
Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 50-53, repro.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 60
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 119, repro.
1959
Ruhmer, Eberhard. Francesco Del Cossa. Munich, 1959:93, repro.
1960
Salmi, Mario. Ercole de' Roberti. Milan, 1960:19, repro.
1961
Walker, John, Guy Emerson, and Charles Seymour. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961:, 48, color repro. pl. 44
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 90, repro.
1964
Ruhmer, Eberhard. "Ein Madonnenbild nach Francesco del Cossa." Pantheon XII, no. 2 (March/April 1964):79, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 115.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:66, color repro.
1966
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XIII-XV Century. London, 1966: 86-87, fig. 233.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 103, repro.
1974
Molajoli, Rosemarie. L'Opera completa di Cosmè Tura e i grandi pittori ferraresi del suo tempo: Francesco Cossa e Ercole de'Roberti. Milan, 1974:no. 124, repro.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 306, repro.
1978
Sleptzoff, L.M. Men or Supermen? The Italian Portrait in the Fifteenth Century. Jerusalem, 1978:61-62
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:406-407, II:pl. 289
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 112, no. 89, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 353, repro.
1992
Manca, Joseph. The Art of Ercole de’ Roberti. Cambridge, 1992: 11, 21, 34-35, 104-106, fig. 5a.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 21, repro.
2003
Boskovits, Miklós, and David Alan Brown, et al. Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century. The Systematic Catalogue of the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 2003: 603-607, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 27, color fig. 21.