Portrait of a Lady by Antonio Pollaiuolo ~ ca. 1460-65
Attribution to Pollaiuolo is largely accepted by recent scholarship. A minority think of Piero della Francesca, and the most recent monograph assigns it to anonymity, along with some related portraits. The attribution is based on the observation of stylistic features that are also achievements in terms of comparable pieces. This is one of the finest portraits of the early Florentine Renaissance in the purity of its line and subtle execution, in the nobility of the pose and the self-confident dignity of the woman’s expression..Beauty and physiognomic description come together in this ravishing portrait of a young woman sitting on a balcony before a richly inlaid marble balustrade, her profile silhouetted against a cloud-scudded sky. “She has the color of pearl, in form such as / is fitting to a lady, not in excess: / she is the greatest good nature can create” (Dante, Vita nuova 9:47–50). The beloved first glimpsed at a window or on a balcony was a staple of amatory writing. Pollaiuolo was also a sculptor, and the hair and brocade have an astonishingly tactile quality.