Arts & Culture

Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni

Domenico Ghirlandaio1489 - 1490

Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza
Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza

This superb panel is a fine example of fifteenth-century Florentine portraiture. Artists of the time followed classical dictates: body proportions were idealised while faces left devoid of expression were expected to convey character. In this half-length portrait, the sitter appears in strict profile, with her arms bent and her hands clasped together. In the background, a selection of personal belongings appears within a simple architectural frame. The cartellino to the right bears part of an epigram by Martial and the date of his death in Roman numerals. The model has been identified as Giovanna Tornabuoni on the basis of a medallion by Niccolò Fiorentino showing her likeness and her name. She is also portrayed full length in the Visitation fresco painted by Ghirlandaio for the Tornabuoni chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novella (Florence).

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