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Portrait of a woman
Piero del Pollaiolo - 1470
An important 15th century portrait, in which the woman’s intriguing gaze is heightened by her beauty, and by the sense of mystery that this work by Pollaiolo seems to exude.
The painting (Ritratto di Dama) is in fact one of the most famous in the Poldi Pezzoli collection, an image that invariably enchants visitors. Innumerable tiny details reveal the artist’s skill, such as the painting of the low-cut bodice with its series of closely-spaced buttons.
The sophisticated hairstyle is held in place by a veil, and the mass of hair is surrounded by a string of small pearls. Another string of pearls, set in gold, runs down the woman’s forehead. This was a common feature in the dress of the highest classes in Florence.
Other remarkable features are the effect of transparency of the veil over the woman’s golden hair, and the beautiful skin tones.
The neck is modelled with sculptural precision, and the overall shapes form a balanced composition. These many small details are brought together to create a harmonious unit, a masterly painting.
Spectators inevitably wonder “What is she thinking, and what is she looking at?”