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After Paris Bordone, Portrait of a Young Woman

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Young Woman
Artist After Paris Bordone
Artist dates 1500 - 1571
Date made probably 17th century
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 98 × 75 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by the Misses Cohen as part of the John Samuel collection, 1906
Inventory number NG2097
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Young Woman
After Paris Bordone

A young woman gazes provocatively at us. A long gold necklace lies on her flushed chest and loops between her breasts. A red carnation, sprig of thyme and frond of white jasmine are tucked into her chemise, which has slipped from her shoulder to reveal her left breast.

Carnations were popular in betrothal portraits as they were a token of faithfulness. This may not be the portrait of a particular woman as her bare breast and direct look would have been regarded as shocking. It could have been a painting of an ideal beauty, possibly a mistress portrayed for her lover, or the portrait of a Venetian courtesan. Pictures of alluring young women were popular subjects for sixteenth-century Venetian painters such as Titian, and especially Palma Vecchio. Palma’s A Blonde Woman of about 1520, in the National Gallery, also reveals her breast and holds a posy of flowers.

This is probably a seventeenth-century copy of an original painting by Paris Bordone.

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