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Giovanni Battista Moroni, Portrait of a Lady ('La Dama in Rosso')

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Lady, perhaps Contessa Lucia Albani Avogadro ('La Dama in Rosso')
Artist Giovanni Battista Moroni
Artist dates 1520/4 - 1579
Date made about 1556-60
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 155 × 106.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1876
Inventory number NG1023
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Lady ('La Dama in Rosso')
Giovanni Battista Moroni

The portrait has long been known as ‘La Dama in Rosso’ – the lady in red. Moroni especially favoured pink or orange-reds. Here he has complemented the colour of the dress in the pinky-orange circles of Verona marble set in the floor. The sitter’s clothes are made of the most luxurious materials and must have been the latest fashion.

The woman is probably Contessa Lucia, wife of Faustino Avogadro, who is thought to be the man portrayed in A Knight with his Jousting Helmet (National Gallery, London). Lucia’s grandfather, Francesco Albani, is probably the sitter in a portrait by Cariani which is also in the National Gallery.

Lucia took great delight in literature and poetry. She is said to have to have written a series of sonnets when she was 15 or 16 years old, and her literary reputation was also praised after her marriage. Her sonnets were collected after her death in a manuscript decorated with her profile portrait.

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