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Pietro Longhi, A Lady receiving a Cavalier

Key facts
Full title A Lady receiving a Cavalier
Artist Pietro Longhi
Artist dates 1701 - 1785
Date made 1745-55
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 61.5 × 50.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Mary Venetia James from the Arthur James collection, 1948
Inventory number NG5841
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Lady receiving a Cavalier
Pietro Longhi

Pietro Longhi has combined an image of gallantry with a glimpse of domestic life – two maids at the left work at an embroidery frame. The elegantly dressed lady of the house welcomes a dashing gentleman, who places his hand on his heart as he bows from the waist. She leans towards him and lightly fans herself.

A painting hanging on the wall behind shows Diana, the chaste goddess of hunting, surrounded by cupids who decorate a nude sculpture. This is possibly of the garden god, Pan, who is often associated with sexuality. The figure of Diana may allude to the chastity of the woman in the foreground, and Pan to the amorous intentions of her companion.

The background is fairly muted, but Longhi has included flashes of colour in the lady’s pink floral brooch and in the gold embroidered edges of the man’s jacket.

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