- Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli
M. Di Giampaolo, Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli, 1500-1569, Florence 1997, p. 223.
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.