oil on canvas, unlined
In the 1520s Paris Bordone began experimenting with representing 'ideal beauty', and looked to the models of the masters of the Venetian school of painting, Giorgione and Pordenone. By the 1540s Bordone's experiments had led to the development of a new representation of the 'cortigiana honesta' (a sort of educated and accomplished courtesan) that he replicated multiple times and easily interchanged with a female portrait or an allegory.
The original of this composition exists in two versions, and is often referred to as 'Violante' as the figure was often presumed to represent a young woman of that name, who was the daughter of the artist Palma Vecchio. This later, head-and-shoulder copy is closest to Bordone's version of 'circa' 1530 in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich.1 The addition of the sprig of foliage at Violante's breast is the copyist's own addition.
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