Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Portrait of a Woman

Artist:
Piero del Pollaiuolo (Piero di Jacopo Benci) (Italian, Florence 1441/42–1485/96 Rome)
Date:
ca. 1480
Medium:
Tempera on wood
Dimensions:
19 1/4 x 13 7/8 in. (48.9 x 35.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Edward S. Harkness, 1940
Accession Number:
50.135.3
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 604
Some of the most distinguished female portraits produced in Florence in the third quarter of the fifteenth century seem to have originated in the workshop of Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo. The present portrait is ascribed to Piero del Pollaiuolo on the strength of its similarity to six panels of Virtues painted for the Mercanzia. The paint surface is much damaged, and the background, the dress, and the surrounding frame have been extensively restored.
Forthcoming
Francis Richard Wemyss-Charteris-Douglas, 10th Earl of Wemyss and March, Gosford House, Longniddry, Haddingtonshire (by 1863–d. 1914); his son, Hugo Richard Wemyss-Charteris-Douglas, 11th Earl of Wemyss and March, Gosford House (1914–d. 1937); his son, Francis David Wemyss-Charteris-Douglas, 12th Earl of Wemyss and March, Gosford House (1937–38); [Mercuria A.G., Lucerne, and Knoedler, New York, 1938–39; sold for $350,000 to Harkness]; Edward S. Harkness, New York (1939–d. 1940; life interest to his widow, Mary Stillman Harkness, 1940–d. 1950)
London. British Institution. "[no title]," 1863, no. 52 (as an Italian Lady, by Fra Fillipo Lippi, lent by Lord Elcho).

London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," 1886, no. 172 (as Italian School, lent by the Earl of Wemyss).

New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Italian Renaissance Portraits," March 18–April 6, 1940, no. 4 (as by Antonio del Pollaiuolo, lent anonymously).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Harkness Collection," October 12, 1951–March 19, 1952, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 78 (as by Antonio del Pollaiuolo).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.

Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's Ginevra de' Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women," September 30, 2001–January 6, 2002, no. 6 (as by Antonio del Pollaiuolo).

Frankfurt. Städel Museum. "Botticelli: Likeness, Myth, Devotion," November 13, 2009–February 28, 2010, no. 16 (as by Antonio del Pollaiolo [sic]).

Madrid. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. "Ghirlandaio y el Renacimiento en Florencia," June 23–October 10, 2010, no. 8.

Bode Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," August 25–November 20, 2011, no. 10.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini," December 21, 2011–March 18, 2012, no. 10.

Milan. Museo Poldi Pezzoli. "Le dame dei Pollaiolo: una bottega fiorentina del rinascimento," November 6, 2014–February 15, 2015, no. 26 (as by Piero del Pollaiuolo).

Georg Gronau. Journal entry. July 10, 1927 [see Ref. Harkness n.d.], attributes it to the artist who executed female profile portraits in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, and the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan.

Excerpt from typed Harkness Catalogue. n.d., calls it "probably the likeness of Marietta Strozzi," and quotes the attributions of Gronau [see Ref. 1927], Venturi [see Ref. 1938], Suida, and Morassi [see Refs. n.d.].

Alfred M. Frankfurter. "Great Renaissance Portraits." Art News 38 (March 16, 1940), pp. 6–8, ill., attributes it to Antonio del Pollaiuolo and dates it about 1470, comparing it to the Berlin and Milan portraits, which he attributes to the same artist.

Italian Renaissance Portraits. Exh. cat., M. Knoedler & Co. New York, 1940, p. 7, no. 4, fig. 4, attributes it to Antonio del Pollaiuolo and mentions an old exhibition label on the back of the panel [see Notes].

Attilio Sabatini. Antonio e Piero del Pollaiolo. Florence, 1944, p. 78, calls it apparently a nineteenth-century copy of the Milan portrait.

H[enry]. L[a]. F[arge]. "In the Harkness Manner." Art News 50 (October 1951), p. 43, ill. (before and after restoration).

"Illustrations of Outstanding Harkness Gifts." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 10 (October 1951), p. 56, ill. p. 61, attributes it to Antonio del Pollaiuolo.

Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 224, no. 78, colorpl. 78, as by Antonio del Pollaiuolo.

Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), ill. p. 13.

Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 179, attributes it to Piero del Pollaiuolo.

Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School. New York, 1971, pp. 124–25, ill., attribute it to Piero del Pollaiuolo, based on its similarity to the Milan, Berlin, and Florence portraits; suggest the Florence and MMA portraits were painted at the same time, possibly about 1470; note the sitter's resemblance to a marble bust of Marietta Strozzi by Desiderio da Settignano (Bodemuseum, Berlin).

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 168, 529, 608.

Carlo L[odovico]. Ragghianti and Gigetta Dalli Regoli. Firenze, 1470–1480: Disegni dal Modello. Pisa, 1975, pp. 21, 43–44 n. 38, date the MMA and Florence portraits later than the one in Milan.

Yvonne Hackenbroch. Renaissance Jewellery. London, 1979, fig. 19 (detail).

John Pope-Hennessy and Keith Christiansen. "Secular Painting in 15th-Century Tuscany: Birth Trays, Cassone Panels, and Portraits." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 38 (Summer 1980), pp. 61–63, fig. 52 (color), state that Piero del Pollaiuolo, rather than Antonio, "is the more probable author"; compare it to the Berlin, Milan, and Florence portraits, dating the group about 1470–85.

Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 227, 233, fig. 403 (color).

Hellmut Wohl. The Paintings of Domenico Veneziano, ca. 1410–1461: A Study in Florentine Art of the Early Renaissance. New York, 1980, p. 180, under no. 52.

Mauro Natale. Museo Poldi Pezzoli: dipinti. Milan, 1982, pp. 151–52, under no. 186.

Charles Dempsey. The Portrayal of Love: Botticelli's 'Primavera' and Humanist Culture at the Time of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Princeton, 1992, p. 132, fig. 19.

Nicoletta Pons. I Pollaiolo. Florence, 1994, pp. 105–6, no. 20, ill.

Paola Venturelli. "Il 'Fermaglio cum l'angelo' di Bianca Maria Visconti Sforza nel dipinto alla Pinacoteca di Brera." Florilegium: scritti di storia dell'arte in onore di Carlo Bertelli. Ed. Laurent Golay et al. Milan, 1995, p. 118.

Jennifer E. Craven. "A New Historical View of the Independent Female Portrait in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Painting." PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1997, pp. 245–46, no. 12, fig. 12, dates it about 1470.

David Alan Brown in Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's "Ginevra de' Benci" and Renaissance Portraits of Women. Ed. David Alan Brown. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2001, pp. 115–17, no. 6, ill. (color), attributes it to Antonio del Pollaiuolo and dates it to the early 1470s, earlier than the works in Berlin and Milan, observing that the group shows the evolution of a portrait type developed by Antonio.

Luke Syson and Dora Thornton. Objects of Virtue: Art in Renaissance Italy. London, 2001, p. 46, fig. 24 (color).

Shelagh Wemyss. "Francis, Lord Elcho (10th Earl of Wemyss) as a Collector of Italian Old Masters." Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History 8 (2003), p. 76, fig. 4.

Miklós Boskovits in Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century. Washington, 2003, p. 594 n. 41, metions it with works that "probably belong to Piero's oeuvre".

Alison Wright. The Pollaiuolo Brothers: The Arts of Florence and Rome. New Haven, 2005, pp. 119, 125, 127, 453 nn. 64, 67, p. 524, no. 55, fig. 96 (color), tentatively attributes it to Piero del Pollaiuolo and dates it to the mid-1470s.

Angelo Tartuferi in La stanza dei Pollaiolo: i restauri, una mostra, un nuovo ordinamento. Ed. Antonio Natali and Angelo Tartuferi. Exh. cat., Galleria degli Uffizi. Florence, 2007, pp. 34, 118, fig. 3 (color), under no. 5.

Alessandro Cecchi in La stanza dei Pollaiolo: i restauri, una mostra, un nuovo ordinamento. Ed. Antonio Natali and Angelo Tartuferi. Exh. cat., Galleria degli Uffizi. Florence, 2007, p. 50.

Deborah L. Krohn in Art and Love in Renaissance Italy. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, p. 103, fig. 65.

Jacqueline Marie Musacchio. Art, Marriage, & Family in the Florentine Renaissance Palace. New Haven, 2008, p. 79, fig. 75 (color), dates it about 1470–80.

Anna Rühl in Botticelli: Likeness, Myth, Devotion. Ed. Andreas Schumacher. Exh. cat., Städel Museum. Frankfurt, 2009, pp. 192–93, no. 16, ill. (color), attributes it to Antonio del Pollaiuolo, based on the ornate headdress and elaborately embroidered sleeve.

Andreas Schumacher in Botticelli: Likeness, Myth, Devotion. Ed. Andreas Schumacher. Exh. cat., Städel Museum. Frankfurt, 2009, p. 152, under no. 1, mentions it as an example of "numerous Florentine profile portraits of young, festively adorned brides".

Gert Jan van der Sman in Ghirlandaio y el Renacimiento en Florencia. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2010, pp. 58–60, 280–81, no. 8, ill. (color).

Patricia Rubin in The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, pp. 4, 9, 11, 16 [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011, pp. 4, 12, 17].

Stefan Weppelmann in The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, pp. 66, 101–5, no. 10, ill. (color) [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011], believes the composition is based on that of the Uffizi portrait and dates both to about 1475; supports the attribution to Piero.

Neville Rowley in The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, p. 105 [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011].

Sabine Hoffmann in The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, p. 275 [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011, p. 276].

Annalisa Zanni in Antonio e Piero del Pollaiolo: "Nell'argento e nell'oro, in pittura e nel bronzo . . . ". Ed. Andrea Di Lorenzo and Aldo Galli. Exh. cat., Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Milan, 2014, pp. 19–21 [English ed., "Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo: 'Silver and Gold, Painting and Bronze . . . '"].

Aldo Galli in Antonio e Piero del Pollaiolo: "Nell'argento e nell'oro, in pittura e nel bronzo . . . ". Ed. Andrea Di Lorenzo and Aldo Galli. Exh. cat., Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Milan, 2014, pp. 46, 68–72, 250, 252, under no. 27, fig. 69 (color, detail) [English ed., "Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo: 'Silver and Gold, Painting and Bronze . . . '," pp. 47, 69–73, 250, 252, under no. 27, fig. 69 (color, detail)], states that he and Andrea Di Lorenzo are convinced that the Berlin, Milan, Florence, and New York portraits are all by Piero; dates this work about 1480.

Elisa Tosi Brandi in Antonio e Piero del Pollaiolo: "Nell'argento e nell'oro, in pittura e nel bronzo . . . ". Ed. Andrea Di Lorenzo and Aldo Galli. Exh. cat., Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Milan, 2014, pp. 103, 108–16 [English ed., "Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo: 'Silver and Gold, Painting and Bronze . . . '"], describes the costume and jewelry.

Andrea Di Lorenzo in Antonio e Piero del Pollaiolo: "Nell'argento e nell'oro, in pittura e nel bronzo . . . ". Ed. Andrea Di Lorenzo and Aldo Galli. Exh. cat., Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Milan, 2014, p. 242, under no. 24, p. 244, under no. 25 [English ed., "Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo: 'Silver and Gold, Painting and Bronze . . . '," p. 240, under no. 24, p. 244, under no. 25].

Cecilia Martelli in Antonio e Piero del Pollaiolo: "Nell'argento e nell'oro, in pittura e nel bronzo . . . ". Ed. Andrea Di Lorenzo and Aldo Galli. Exh. cat., Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Milan, 2014, pp. 248–49, no. 26, ill. (color) [English ed., "Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo: 'Silver and Gold, Painting and Bronze . . . '"], attributes it to Piero del Pollaiuolo and dates it about 1480 in the caption and to the early 1480s in the text, relating it to the artist's "Coronation of the Virgin" of 1483 in the cathedral at San Gimignano.

Adrian W. B. Randolph. Touching Objects: Intimate Experiences of Italian Fifteenth-Century Art. New Haven, 2014, p. 93, fig. 40 (color).



Stylistically this painting closely resembles three other profile portraits attributed to the Pollaiuoli (Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence).

According to Knoedler 1940, there was at that time an old exhibition label on the back of the panel, which read: "No. 70. A female head, most beautifully drawn, said to be the portrait of Beatrice, the mistress of Dante, and under that description formed a point of attraction in a distinguished exhibition in Paris."

A photograph of this work as it appeared in 1928 has an attribution to Domencio Veneziano written on the back [see archive file].
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