Lot 34
  • 34

Attributed to Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian

200,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian
  • A portrait of a lady, half length, dressed in a damask, fur-lined gown with a gold cinta and green and gold balzo
  • oil on canvas, unframed
  • 35 by 29 3/4  in.; 88.96 by 75.5 cm.


Possibly Marchese Riccardo Romolo Riccardi (1558-1612), Palazzo di Valfonda, Florence (included in the 1612 inventory following his death), by descent to his nephew;
Marchese Gabriello Riccardi (1606-1675), Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence;
Marchese Francesco Riccardi (1648-1719), Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence;
Marchese Cosimo Riccardi (1671-1751), Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence;
Marchese Francesco Riccardi (1697-1758; relinquished his primogeniture in 1734), Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence;
Marchese Vincenzo Maria Riccardi (1704-1752), Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence;
Marchese Carlo Riccardi (1738-1766), Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence;
Giuseppe Riccardi (1744-1789), Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence;
Acquired by Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840), Principe de Canino, in 1808 along with 26 other paintings from the Riccardi collection;
His sale, London, William Buchanan, New Gallery, Pall Mall, 6 February 1815, lot 93 (as Titian, Portrait of the Duchess Sforza, where unsold);
His sale, London, George Stanley,14-16 May 1816, lot 157, for £63 (as Titian, "Portrait of the Duchess Sforza. From the Riccardi Gallery");
His sale 25 December 1823 - 10 January 1824, Paris, lot 30, for 6,000 francs (as Titian);
John Morris-Moore, 27 Soho Square, London, until 1849;
From whom acquired by Robert Staynor Holford (1808-1892), Dorchester House, London, and Westonbirt, Gloucestershire;
By descent to his son, Sir George Lindsay Holford, Dorchester House, London;
His sale, London, Christie's, 15 July 1927, lot 90, £546 (as Girolamo Romanino);
There acquired by the Rothschild Gallery, London;
Baron Detlev von Hadeln (1878-1935);
With Galleria Lorenzelli, Bergamo;
Private collection, Milan, by 1971;
From whom acquired by the present owner.


London, Chevalier Boyer's, 31, Leicester Square, The splendid collection of pictures belonging to Lucien Buonaparte, Prince of Canino, 1816, no. 87 (as Titian); 
London 1816, p. 23, cat. no. 87 (as Titian);
Royal Academy London, Exhibition of works by the Old Masters and by deceased masters of the British School, 1887, p. 33, no. 132 (as Titian);
The New Gallery, London, Exhibition of Venetian Art, 1894-1895, no. 156 (as Titian).


Inventory of the collection of Riccardo Romolo Riccardi in the Palazzo di Valfonda, after his death on 26 January 1612, Carte Riccardi, Archivio di Stato, Florence, fil. 258, c. 21R (as believed to be Titian; "Alla seconda lunetta: Tre quadri antichi, fra quali e un ritratto grande d'una femina, con ornam.[en]to nero, si crede di mano di Titiano");
Inventory of the collection in Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, datable to the end of the 17th century, Carte Riccardi, Archivio di Stato, Florence, fil. 267, c. 256 r. (as Titian; in the "quarta stanza" as "Ritratto d'una Duchessa Sforza");
Inventario dei mobili, masserizie etc., che esistono nel Palazzo dell'Ill.mo Sig.re Marchese Balì Vincenzo Riccardi, 10 April 1806, Carte Riccardi, Archivio di Stato, Florence, fil. 350, no. 97, cc. 1/42 n.n (as Titian; "Due detti dipinti in tela con cornici dorati, rappresentanti due Ritratti di femmine; opera di Tiziano");
Catalogue of the splendid collection of pictures belonging to Lucien Buonaparte, Prince of Canino: now on private view at Chevalier Boyer's, No. 31, Leicester Square, London
, (exhibition catalogue), London 1816, p. 23, cat. no. 87 (as Titian);
W. Buchanan, Memoirs of painting; with a chronological history of the importation of pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution, London 1824, vol. II, p. 290, cat. no. 85 (as Titian);
J.A. Crowe and G.B. Cavalcaselle, Life and Times of Titian, London 1877, (1881 ed.), vol. II, p. 461 (under "uncertified Titians" as Venetian School);
B. Berenson, The study and criticism of Italian Art, London 1901, p. 91 (as Girolamo Romanino);
B. Berenson, Italienische Kunst, Studien und Betrachtungen, Leipzig 1902, p. 129 (as Girolamo Romanino);
B. Berenson, North Italian Painters of the Renaissance, New York and London 1907, p. 285 (as Girolamo Romanino);
R.H. Benson, The Holford Collection, Dorchester House, London 1927, vol. I, p. 39, cat. no. 77, reproduced plate 71 (as attributed to Girolamo Romanino);
A. Venturi, "Ancora della Biblioteca di Sir Robert Witt," in L'Arte, XXXVI, 1928, pp. 199-200, reproduced plate 8 (as Pordenone);
H. Keutner, "Zu einigen Bildnissen des frühen Florentiner Manierismus; im Anhang das Gemälde-Inventar der Familie Riccardi aus dem Jahre 1612," in Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz., 8, 1957-1959 (1959), 3, pp. 139-154.
R. Pallucchini, Tiziano, Florence 1969, vol. I, p. 271, reproduced vol. II, plate 229 and 230 (as Titian, dating to circa 1535-1538);
L. Dussler, "Review of Rodolfo Palluchini, Tiziano," in Pantheon, XXVIII, 1970, p. 550 (questioning the attribution to Titian);
E. Ruhmer, "Buchbesprechung: Rodolfo Pallucchini, Tiziano," in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 34, 1971, p. 149 (as Bernardino Licinio);
H.E. Wethey, The Paintings of Titian, London 1971, vol. II, p. 172, cat. no. X-67 (as Bernardino Licinio, circa 1530);
G. de Juliis, "Appunti su una quadreria fiorentina: La collezione dei Marchesi Riccardi," in Paragone, 375, May 1981, p. 58, footnote nos. 16 and 17 (as Titian);
M.J. Minicucci, "Parabola di un museo," in Rivista d'arte, XXXIX, 4th series, III, 1987, p. 387 (citing the Riccardi inventory of 10 April 1806, no. 338, as Titian);
R. Carloni, "Per una ricostruzione della collezione dei dipinti di Luciano: acquisti, vendite e qualche nota sul mercato antiquari romano del primo Ottocento," in M. Natoli (ed.), Luciano Bonaparte, le sue collezioni d'arte, le sue residenze a Roma, nel Lazio, in Italia (1804-1840), Rome 1995, p. 23 (as Titian, identifying the sitter as a Sforza Duchess).
M. Gregori, "La collezione dei dipinti antichi," in M. Natoli (ed.), Luciano Bonaparte, le sue collezioni d'arte, le sue residenze a Roma, nel Lazio, in Italia (1804-1840), Rome 1995, pp. 308 and 309-310 (as Bernardino Licinio);
R. Bartoli Contini, "La Galleria Bonaparte. Catalogo," in M. Natoli (ed.), Luciano Bonaparte, le sue collezioni d'arte, le sue residenze a Roma, nel Lazio, in Italia (1804-1840), Rome 1995, p. 330, cat. no. 70 (as Bernardin Licinio?);
B. Edelein-Badie, La collection de tableaux de Lucien Bonaparte, prince de Canino, Notes et documents des musées de France, 30, Paris 1997, pp. 59, 75, 213-214, cat. no. 133, p. 392 (as Bernardino Licinio?);
N. Penny, The National Gallery Catalogues: The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings, London 2004, vol. I, pp. 367 and 370, footnote no. 19 (under the profile of Robert Holford, as formerly considered to be  by Titian and now reattributed to Romanino).

Anonymously engraved around 1812, Galerie de tableaux du prince Lucien Bonaparte, no. 2.

Catalogue Note

This striking Portrait of a Lady, dating to the 1530s, has been identified as almost certainly that mentioned in an inventory of Marchese Riccardo Romolo Riccardi, compiled following his death on 26 January 1612 (see Literature).  An astute banker and prominent member of the Medici court, Riccardi was also a poet, intellectual and collector.  According to the inventory, the painting was considered to be by Titian: Alla seconda lunetta: Tre quadri antichi, fra quali e un ritratto grande d'una femina, con ornam[en]to nero, si crede di mano di Titiano. (“In the second lunette: Three old paintings, among which is a large portrait of a woman, with black adornment, believed to be the hand of Titian.”)1 The portrait appears again in a later inventory, that of Giuseppe Riccardi in 1677, this time identifying the handsome sitter as a duchess of the Sforza family, the ruling dynasty of Milan.2 The portrait was passed down through several generations of the Riccardi family until 1808 when it was acquired, along with 26 other pictures, for the collection of Prince Lucien Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon (see Literature and Provenance), where the painting was engraved circa 1812 (fig. 1).

The painting had been considered to be a work by Titian's hand since its earliest mention in the Riccardi inventories, but the attribution was questioned by Crowe and Cavacaselle in 1877, and it was attributed to Girolamo Romanino by Bernard Berenson in 1901 (see Literature).  The painting was subsequently published as Bernardino Licinio by a number of scholars.  This attribution, however, is incidental and based on a superficial similarity in composition and costume type typical of that artist.  More recent scholarship has rejected this idea, noting the quality as superior to Licinio.  Indeed, the fluid and confident handling of the Portrait of a Lady is more typical of Titian, leading more recent scholarship to reconsider an attribution to the master himself. The beautiful articulation of the hand and sleeve lower left and the impressionistic rendering of the jewelry are particularly compelling.   

While the identity of the noblewoman depicted has yet to be isolated, her clothing provides some clues to her social standing and to the date of the painting’s execution.  She wears a gown of rich damask and the sumptuous figured textile is lavishly lined with fur which escapes in spurts from the decorative slashes and front.  The dry and exceptionally painterly description of the fur is typical of Titian and recalls his treatment of the lynx stole worn by Isabella d’Este (1474-1539), Marchesa of Mantua, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (fig. 2) which likewise dates to circa 1534-36.  The neckline of the gown is cut wide and low and the sleeves are slashed, billowing from the shoulder and becoming tighter from elbow to wrist, consistent with styles popular in the 1530s.  The voluminous cap, called a balzo, and the heavy gold paternoster girdle were fashionable accessories in Venice at that time.  The noblewoman wears a long string of pearls, which were tremendously costly, interrupted at intervals with gold beads.  Pearls were synonymous with purity and it is notable that the sitter should be depicted so conspicuously winding them in her fingers. Her attire can be compared to that of the unknown lady in Bernardino Licinio’s Portrait of Woman Holding a Portrait of a Man in the Museo d’Arte Antica del Castello Sforzesco, Milan (fig. 3; inv. no. 28) which dates to around 1625-30.3  Much like the Licinio portrait, the accessories worn by the sitter here likely signify her married status.  As Andrea Bayer writes, the paternoster belt was “a piece of jewelry associated with the bonds of marriage” and extravagant items such as this and the pearl necklace might form part of a wedding trousseau or be offered as a betrothal gift.4 

We are grateful to Mauro Lucco, who has seen the present painting firsthand and believes it to be an autograph work by Titian himself.

1. H. Keutner, under Literature.
2. G. de Juliis, under Literature, p. 58, footnote no. 17.
3. For the Licinio portrait see A. Bayer, Art and Love in Renaissance Italy, New York and New Haven 2008, p. 270-271, cat. no. 125, reproduced.
4.  Ibid., p. 270.