LAVINIA FONTANA | PORTRAIT OF A LADY, THREE-QUARTER LENGTH, DRESSED IN A WHITE AND GOLD EMBROIDERED GOWN, HOLDING A GLOVE IN ONE HAND AND A ROSE AND A PINK IN THE OTHER
Property from a private collection
Property from a Private Collection
Bologna 1552-1614 Roma
PORTRAIT OF A LADY, THREE-QUARTER LENGTH, DRESSED IN A WHITE AND GOLD EMBROIDERED GOWN, HOLDING A GLOVE IN ONE HAND AND A ROSE AND A PINK IN THE OTHER
oil on canvas
canvas: 41¾ by 31⅝ in.; 106.2 by 80.3 cm.
framed: 48¾ by 38¾ in.; 123.8 by 98.4 cm.
The painting presents a strong and impressive image under a clear varnish. It appears to have been recently conserved and is ready to hang in its current state. The canvas appears to be lined. The paint surface is good and stable, but there has perhaps been a little abrasion in her flesh tones and hair, but the details in the costume, particularly the jewels, remain strong and clear. Inspection under UV light reveals fine, feathered retouching to the canvas weave throughout her face, and strengthening to the gold embroidery, areas of the green curtain, and outlines of the book. The painting requires no further work, and it is offered in a decoratively carved gilt wood frame.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Anonymous sale, London, Bonham's, 9 December 2015, lot 25 (as Circle of Fontana);
Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 26 January 2017, lot 127;
Only recently restored to the artist’s oeuvre, this striking portrait of a noblewoman has been recognized by Maria Teresa Cantaro as an autograph work by Lavinia Fontana, dating between 1605 and 1615.1 The identity of the distinguished sitter remains unknown but the opulence of her attire and the exquisite jewels about her neck indicate that she was a woman of high social standing and some considerable wealth. Her white silk gown is brocaded with gold and opens from the waist to reveal a forepart decorated with gold embroidered buttons. Her fashionable false sleeves are worn open to display further precious textiles in the under-sleeves, with multiple rows of gold braiding. The sitter wears a ring on the third finger of both hands and in her right clasps two flowers, a rose and a pink, symbolic of love and fidelity. Their prominence in the portrait suggest it may have been commissioned in celebration of the young woman’s marriage.
One of the earliest professional female artists, Lavinia Fontana was first trained by her father, Prospero, who was one of the leading painters in their native city of Bologna. In her early years she was influenced by his Mannerist style, producing religious compositions both as large altarpieces and as small, highly finished paintings for private devotion. By the late 1570s, however, Lavinia had established herself as a portrait painter and it is this genre for which she is most famous today. As a sought-after portraitist, particularly amongst Bolognese noblewomen, she was successful enough to fully support her family (which included eleven children), and her husband became her agent and assistant. In 1603 she moved to Rome at the invitation of Pope Clement VIII and established a prosperous career there.
1. A copy of the expertise by Maria Teresa Cantaro, dated 9 May 2016, is available upon request from the department.