Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 18748
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Brown , David Alan.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Leonardo and the Ladies with the Ermine and the Book [Although Isabella d'Este and Cecilia Gallerani were both active, fashionable, and learned patrons of letters, Leonardo da Vinci (who was patronized by both) depicts the women very differently in his paintings. Cecilia appears in Leonardo's "Lady with the Ermine" as a lively woman whose gaze faces the viewer, but Isabella d'Este appears in Leonardo's drawings as more stately and reserved, sometimes pointing at a book. Isabella likely played a large role in shaping her own image in her portraits, preferring more formal and Classical motifs including the profile pose. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source: Artibus et Historiae 11, 21 ( 1990): Pages 47 - 61.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Animals, Image of Artists Art History- Painting Bianca Maria Visconti, Duchess of Milan and Wife of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan Books in Art Classical Influences Eroticism Este Family Iconography Isabella d'Este, Wife of Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquis
  • Award Note:
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 15
  • Primary Evidence: Drawing; Leonardo da Vinci, "Isabella d'Este," late fifteenth century (Department des Arts Graphiques, Musee du Louvre, Paris). Drawing is a profile portrait of Isabella in a simple striped dress with her head uncovered and turned to the right. Her hands are clasp
  • Illustrations: Thirteen Figures. Figure One Leonardo da Vinci, "Isabella d'Este," late fifteenth century (Department des Arts Graphiques, Musee du Louvre, Paris). Drawing is a profile portrait of Isabella in a simple striped dress with her head uncovered and turned to the right. Her hands are clasped (right hand over left) with her right hand index finger slightly extended. Figure Two Master of the Pala Sforzesca, "Madonna and Child Enthroned with the Fathers of the Church and Lodovico Sforza and His Family," late fifteenth century (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan). Painting depicts Lodovico Sforza (Duke of Milan) and his wife Beatrice d'Este and two young sons kneeling in prayer before the Virgin and Child, who are ~~seated at a throne and attended by Church fathers and angels. Figure Three Ambrogio de Predis, "Bianca Maria Sforza," late fifteenth century (National Gallery of Art, Widener Collection, Washington, D.C.). Painting is a profile portrait of Bianca. Her entire body faces the left and she wears an ~~elaborate headdress, jewelry, gown, and belt. Figure Four Leonardo da Vinci, "Cecilia Gallerani (Lady with the Ermine)," fifteenth century (Czartoryski Collection, Krakow). Painting depicts Cecilia in a ~~three-quarters view, with head turned slightly to the right. She wears a simple headdress and necklace and cradles an ermine (weasel) with her arms, her right hand stroking the ermine's back. Figure Five After Leonardo da Vinci, "Leda and the Swan," early sixteenth century (Galleria Borghese, Rome). Painting depicts Leda standing with her nude body toward the viewer, her head turned down and toward the left. Her right arm extends across her body and her right hand strokes the back of the neck of the white swan who stands beside her. Figure Six Leonardo da Vinci, "Virgin on the Rocks," late fifteenth century. Painting depicts a youthful angel who is robed and has long flowing hair. The angel's right hand is extended with the index finger pointing toward the Virgin. Figure Seven Lorenzo Costa, "Portrait of a Lady," late fifteenth century (Royal Collection, Hampton Court, London). Painting depicts a woman with her body and gaze facing the viewer. Her head is slightly tilted to the left and she wears a simple headdress and necklace, and she holds a small white dog in her arms, stroking the animal with her right hand. Figure Eight Lorenzo Costa, "Allegory," early sixteenth century Musee du Louvre, Paris). Painting depicts the coronation of a lady (identified as Isabella d'Este) in an outdoor landscape. She is surrounded by musicians playing instruments and poets reciting poetry. Figure Nine After Leonardo da Vinci, "Isabella d'Este," sixteenth century (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Drawing depicts Isabella in profile with her head turned to the right. She wears a loose ~~fitting style of dress with broad sleeves. Her hands are clasped (right hand over left) and resting on table or desk, and her right hand index finger points to a book resting on the table. Figure Ten Anonymous, "Portrait of Alesssandro Achillini," 1520 (from Achillini's "Anatomicae Annotationes," Bologna). Woodcut depicts Achillini in profile with his head turned to the right. He wears a cap and an academic robe, and his arms rest on a surface or desk. His right hand rests upon a book lying on the desktop, and his left hand rests on the desk, pointing to the book. Figure Eleven Gian Cristoforo Romano, "Medal of Isabella d'Este," 1498 (National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection, Washington, D.C.). Bronze medal shows the bust of Isabella in profile to the right, while reverse bears an emblem and Latin motto with a winged figure in the center. Figure Twelve Anonymous Emilian, "Apollo Belvedere," early sixteenth century Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin). Drawing after a late fifteenth century bronze medal depicts Apollo nude in profile with head turned to the right and right arm extended. Figure Thirteen Titian, "Portrait of a Lady (La Schiavona)," early sixteenth century (National Gallery, London). Painting depicts a well dressed woman who smiles while facing the viewer. Her left hand rests upon a sculptural profile of the same woman with her had toward the left.
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  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1990.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 03919064