Arts Everyday Living: A Woman of the Italian Renaissance–An Alternative to the Mona Lisa?

Girolamo di Benvenuto, Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1508, oil on poplar panel, Samuel H. Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Title: Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1508

Artist: Girolamo di Benvenuto, 1470-1524


Portrait of a Young Woman may not be the Mona Lisa and it is likely that you never have heard of its Italian Renaissance artist Girolamo di Benvenuto, a contemporary of the iconic Leonardo da Vinci. Yet, the subject communicates with the viewer directly, even though she is  looking at us from at an angle, not frontally—her look almost bold, definitely not shy or retiring. Confidant in herself and position in society?  Proud of the richness of her attire: the rich green and white bodice dress, the fine gossamer veil, and the jeweled pendant. Framed too by a decorative pattern of gold and black.

Her name and background remain unknown after more than five centuries, almost 90 of those years as part of the National Gallery of Art’s collection. Before then, beginning in 1811, Portrait of a Young Woman  was bought and sold at least a dozen times to a variety of owners. However, today the painting is fortunately accessible to the general public, exhibited on one of the main floors of the museum. Likely to greet the usual crowds of summer tourists who hopefully will stop and pause in front of her presence.





In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the National Gallery of Art participated in any projects utilizing the said image.

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