Ginevra de’ Benci

Ginevra de’ Benci is a portrait painting produced between 1474 and 1478 by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci.

Ginevra de’ Benci is the one of the few paintings of Leonardo da Vinci in the United States out for public view.

Leonardo da Vinci painted the portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci in Florence, apparantely to commemorate her marriage (at the age of 16) with Luigi di Bernarso Niccolini in 1474. The portrait painting w an engagement and wedding gift,  commissioned by Bernardo Bembo,The Venetian Ambassador of Florence, who is also a close friend and admirer of Ginevra de’ Benci. The painting’s imagery and fingerprints are visible on painted surface and the text on the reverse of the panel are memorialized by the phrase ‘VIRTVTEM FORMA DECORAT’ which means ‘Beauty Adorns Virtue’ and supports the identification of this picture. There is a juniper tree directly behind Ginerva in this portrait painting.

The work can be viewed at National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., United States.

 

Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
Location: National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., United States.
Medium: oil on panel
Category: Tags: , ,

Description

Ginevra de’ Benci is a portrait painting produced between 1474 and 1478 by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci.

In the reverse of this portrait, a juniper sprig (a small stem bearing leaves or flowers)  is decorated encircled by a wreath of laurel and palm. The laurel and palm are the personal emblem of Bernardo Bembo, a close friend of Ginevra and Venetian ambassador to Florence. Their platonic relationship was revealed in many poems dedicated to them. Infrared examination throughout the portrait has revealed Bembo’s motto of “Virtue and Honor” beneath Ginevra. So, it is likely assumed that Bembo ordered the emblematic painting on the verso of the portrait.

The portrait turned out to be one of the highlights of the National Gallery of Art in America and admired by many because of Ginevra’s temperament portrayal. Ginevra has no hint of a smile, she is beautiful, and appearance is indifferent. A strip from the bottom of the portrait was removed, one-third of the portion of the portrait presumably owing to damage. It is considered that the missing has Ginevra’s arms and hands, possibly folded or crossed in a pose similar to Leonardo drawing or the Verrocchio sculpture.

 

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