Lot 4
  • 4

Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli
  • Portrait of a lady, bust length, in a black gown and linen partlet
  • oil on panel


Farnese collection, Palazzo del Giardino, Parma, by 1680.


G. Campori, Raccolta de cataloghi ed inventori inediti di quadri, statue, disegni, bronzi, dorerie, smalti, medaglie, avorii, ecc. dal secolo XV al secolo XIX, Bologna 1975, inv. XXIV A, p. 260;
M. Di Giampaolo, Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli, 1500-1569, Florence 1997, p. 223.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This charming work on panel is in beautiful condition. The original panel is clearly visible. Although the reverse may have been thinned at one time, there are no reinforcements or structural issues. Faint remnants of an inscription on the reverse are still visible, particularly under ultraviolet light. The surface is flat and the paint layer is stable. The painting has not been recently cleaned. If cleaned, it would certainly brighten. There is only one small retouch visible under ultraviolet light in a spot between the bridge of the nose and the left eye. The work can certainly be hung in its current state, but careful cleaning would make a notable difference.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This intimate portrait of a young lady is a newly discovered addition to the oeuvre of Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli.  The attribution is endorsed by Professor Mary Vaccaro, who believes this to be an early work by the artist, dating to the early 1540s.1  Bedoli is thought to have received his early training in the workshop of Parmigianino’s uncle, Pier’ Ilario Mazzola.  When he married his master’s daughter in 1529, he adopted the better known name of Mazzola in addition to his own.  His career was intertwined with that of Parmigianino from an early stage and following Parmigianino’s death in 1540, Bedoli’s services were in high demand in Parma.

This painting can be identified as the lost portrait described in an inventory of the Palazzo del Giardino, Parma.  The palazzo was built for the Farnese family 1561 and was the ducal residence until the mid-seventeenth century.  The inventory dates from circa 1680 and the description of the painting reads:  “Un quadro alto on. 6, largo on 4 e 3/4, in tavola. Un ritratto di una femmina con velo sopra le spalle, in lontananza una finestra con vitriata, di Girolamo Mazzola.” (“A painting 6 on[ce] tall, 4 and ¾ on[ce] wide, on panel.  A portrait of a woman with a veil over her shoulders, a glazed window in the distance, by Girolamo Mazzola”)2.  The measurements, given in Parmese once match those of the present painting to within half an inch, but it is the precision of the description that is most compelling.  The entry specifically states the window is “con vitrata” (“with glass”); the sitter is positioned before a window that is glazed in a distinctively Italian manner, with individual round panes joined together with leading.  Equally, the description of the “velo sopre le spalle” (“veil over her shoulders”) matches the fine, transparent partlet that the sitter wears tucked modestly into the neckline of her bodice. 

The lady’s puffed shoulder rolls, where the sleeve attaches to the bodice with ribbons, are quite loose and worn off the shoulder on the upper arm, a fashion popular around 1540-45 and consistent with the dating of the painting.  Surviving portraits by Bedoli from this period are scarce but a comparison with his frescoes from the Duomo in Parma reveals similarities in the artist’s treatment of facial features that transcend despite the difference in media.  The Parma frescoes were commissioned in 1538, though were not begun immediately and the artist did not receive payment for them until 1544.3  As Vaccaro notes, the face of the sitter here is particularly reminiscent of that of the Christ figure in Bedoli’s Christ in Majesty with the Madonna and Saints, which decorates the apse of the Duomo.  Similar too is the artist’s Santa Chiara (fig. 1) now in the Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples (inv. no. 122), which Mario Di Giampaolo also dates to the 1540s.4


1.  Private verbal communication with Mary Vaccaro, 20 August 2015.
2.  G. Campori, under Literature.
3.  M. Di Giampaolo, under Literature, p. 124, cat. no. 16, reproduced pp. 52-53, fig. 16.
4.  Ibid., p. 124, cat. no. 17, reproduced p. 60, fig. 17.