The figure of Beauty in this painting appears to be an idealised self-portrait of the artist. In a lively self-portrait sketch, now in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Elisabetta depicted herself with a neat mouth and large eyes, meeting closely at the bridge of an elegant, long nose; the physiognomy is certainly comparable to that of this female nude.2 As a lady of social rank and commercial success, Elisabetta became a recognizable figure and was renowned for her beauty. She used her looks and status to her advantage, both posing for her father and inserting her image into her own paintings. She appears as a seductive heroine in numerous historical and mythological paintings, including Giovanni Andrea's Venus and Cupid in the collection of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bologna, and her own Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting, in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow.3
1. Modesti 2004, p. 11.
2. Modesti 2004, pp. 17–18, reproduced fig. 5.
3. Modesti 2004, reproduced p. 19, fig. 7 and p. 15, fig. 3 respectively.
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