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Members' Research Report Archive

The Art Collections and Patronage of Frederick Leyland

Robyn Asleson, Research Associate, 2015–2016

Shown from the waist up, a young woman with creamy white skin faces and looks directly at us in this vertical portrait painting. The subtly upturned corners of her mouth and the outer corners of her eyes are touched with shadows. Her delicate eyebrows are faintly painted over dark brown eyes. She has a long straight nose and an oval shaped face framed by large teardrop pearl earrings. Her dark brown hair is parted down the middle and pulled back under a gold colored headdress of stuffed fabric that creates a kind of halo against the dark background. Precisely formed curls rest against her forehead over each temple. Her elegant black dress has voluminous, puffy sleeves framing a sheer, butter yellow panel covering her chest. White ruffles emerge at her neck and cuffs. A Maltese cross, which flares at the end of each arm, hangs from a thick gold chain that falls over her chest and down to her waist. She touches the chain with her left hand, on our right, and with the other she holds the body of a small furry brown animal with bared teeth. The background behind the woman is black down the center and a deep emerald green curtain falls to either side.

Bernardino Luini, Portrait of a Lady, 1520/1525, oil on panel, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.37

My research on the origins of the English Aesthetic Movement took me to London, where I completed the identification of Italian Renaissance paintings acquired by the nineteenth-century art patron and collector Frederick R. Leyland. In addition, I coorganized The Lost Symphony: Whistler and the Perfection of Art, an exhibition at the Freer and Sackler Galleries that traced the development and ultimate abandonment of an experimental painting Leyland commissioned from James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903). Other completed projects include an exhibition catalog essay on the art collections and patronage of three eighteenth-century English royal princesses and a CAA talk on Pre-Raphaelitism(s) in British popular music.

Luini, Bernardino
Italian, 1480 - 1532
Bernardino Luini
Portrait of a Lady
1520/1525