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Portrait of a Lady in Red
Italian, Florentine
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This portrait was probably commissioned at the time of this woman’s marriage, probably by the family of her future husband. She is presented in the finest jewel-encrusted accessories: her headdress is sewn with pearls and gems in a fan pattern, and the pearl adornments of her transparent veil tickle her smooth shoulders. The pearl was associated with purity, an essential and celebrated quality for a young woman about to be married.

The profile view recalls Renaissance portrait medals, the reverses of which featured visual allegories representing virtues such as modesty or chastity, deemed suitable for a wife. This picture was bought by the National Gallery as a portrait of Isotta da Rimini by Piero della Francesca, possibly on the basis of comparison with a portrait medal. In the medal, however, Isotta’s nose is shorter and straighter than here.

Key facts
Artist Italian, Florentine
Full title Portrait of a Lady in Red
Date made probably 1460-70
Medium and support Oil and tempera on wood
Dimensions 42 x 29 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG585
Location in Gallery Gallery A: Paintings 1250-1600
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