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Follower of Sandro Botticelli, A Lady in Profile

Key facts
Full title A Lady in Profile
Artist Follower of Sandro Botticelli
Artist dates about 1445 - 1510
Date made about 1490
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 59.1 × 40 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by the Misses Cohen as part of the John Samuel collection, 1906
Inventory number NG2082
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Lady in Profile
Follower of Sandro Botticelli

Portraits like this – of idealised women, seen in profile – were popular in fifteenth-century Florence. This picture is not by Botticelli but by his workshop, which was one of many that produced them. The women usually have fair hair, pale skin and rosy lips, as this was thought to be the most beautiful colouring.

This belief was influenced by fourteenth-century poetic descriptions of beautiful – and virtuous – women. Since the face was seen as the mirror of the soul, such portraits also emphasised the character of their sitters.

Like many other portraits of the period, this one has a painted reverse. It shows a winged figure standing on a rocky mound. We don't know the meaning of the image, but it most probably symbolised the woman’s moral character.

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