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Henry Valentine Stafford Jerningham, 9th Baron of Stafford [d. 1884]; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 30 May 1885, no. 373, as Blanche, daughter of Henry IV of England). James Gurney; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 12 March 1898, no. 7, as Blanche, daughter of Henry IV of England); Cooper.[1] M. de Villeroy, Paris; (sequestered property sale, Galérie Georges Petit, Paris, 28-29 April 1922, no. 34, as School of Vienna, Portrait of a Lady);[2] (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York); sold 1923 to Clarence H. Mackay [1874-1938], Roslyn, New York; repurchased 1935 by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York); purchased 15 December 1936 by The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh;[3] gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Loan for display with permanent collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1922.
Loan Exhibition of Important Early Italian Paintings in the Possession of Notable American Collectors, Duveen Brothers, New York, 1924, no. 17, as by Pisanello (no. 38, as by Antonio Pisano, in illustrated 1926 version of catalogue).
Fifteenth Century Portraits, M. Knoedler & Co. Inc., New York, 1935, no. I, as Isotta degli Atti, wife of Sigismondo Malatesta da Rimini by Pisanello.
Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's 'Ginevra de' Benci' and Renaissance Portraits of Women, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2001-2002, no. 1, color repro.
El retrato del Renacimiento [Madrid title], Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian [London title], Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid; National Gallery, London, 2008-2009, no. 7 (Madrid), no. 1 (London), repro.
The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2008-2009); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, not in cat. (shown only in New York).

Technical Summary

The panel supporting the paint surface has been thinned, set into another panel with a 5 mm rim all around, and then cradled. The panel supporting the paint surface has an old, repaired split running from the bottom edge up through the hat to the right of center. Although the present painted surface comes to the edge of this panel, what appear to be the original ground and support occupy a slightly smaller area (48.6 - 48.8 x 31.7 - 32.1 cm) clearly visible in the x-radiograph. The pronounced horizontal crackle within this smaller area does not extend beyond its borders. This crackle pattern and the tear-like appearance of another disturbed area at the bottom left, visible in the x-radiograph, suggest that the ground may have been laid on paper or parchment.

Infrared reflectography reveals what appears to be an underdrawn design delineating the ear, some hairpins, and individual strands of hair in the coil over the lady's ear. These delicate strands follow the line of the coil, rather than forming the horizontal bands of crimping visible on the surface. Traces of an underdrawn brocade pattern were also detected in the robe during examination with infrared reflectography.

Microscopic examination shows extensive repaint.[1] The profile and the eye, nostril, lips, and ear have been repainted, though they seem to correspond to the old outline visible underneath. The gold of the pins is repaint. The hat is totally repainted over heavy damage. The back of the coiffure is totally repainted. The white fur and collar appear to be old, but with some repainted areas. Whereas most of the gold on the robe is new, the abraded blue of the robe is apparently not repainted except for a damage in the left corner. Most of the gold on the beads is new, yet there are residues of old gold underneath. The necklace and belt are apparently made of metallic foil, possibly attached by small nails or brads in the case of the necklace. There are scattered damages in the background, which appears to have been entirely toned over to bring it into conformity with what are presumably later additions at left, right, and top edges.

[1] The paint has not been analyzed to determine whether it is oil or tempera based. However, the present paint layer appears to be oil based, with the texture of the white paint in the hair suggesting the use of an emulsion medium there, according to Kay Silberfeld who undertook the technical examination of the painting.


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