Giampietrino (Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli) (Italian, Milanese, active by ca. 1495, died 1549)
Oil on wood; 44 7/8 x 23 1/4 in. (114 x 59.1 cm)
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Richardson Gift, 1989 (1989.21)
It is only quite recently that the artist traditionally known as Giampietrino, among the most faithful pupils of Leonardo da Vinci, has been identified as Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli. He is referred to as "Gioanpietro" in documents of Leonardo's Milanese workshop and reappears in various guises in the texts of several later writers, as one of the master's more famous disciples. Although he was an accomplished painter of altarpieces and devotional works, Giampietrino seems to have carved a niche for himself with the depiction of female heroines of mythology and Roman history. Inspired by Leonardo's two Leda and the Swan compositions (both lost), the figures are generally shown nude and, often, full length and set in a landscape. Diana the Huntress, portraying the chaste goddess of the hunt before a dense bank of trees with a delicate deer beside her, is one of the most beautiful and poetic of these. Milanese copies after Leonardo's so-called Standing Leda show a woman in a contrapposto stance similar to that of the Museum's Diana, with one hip back and the opposite foot forward.
This is one of the earliest images to isolate Diana from a narrative context. If the original inspiration came from Leonardo, Giampietrino relied on another source for the figure itself. She is based on a print of Diana by the engraver Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio (49.97.233), dated 1526, which is, in turn, part of the twenty-print series Gods in Niches, drawn by the Florentine Mannerist Rosso Fiorentino (14941540). It has been proposed that the Diana was one of a group of four images of "female deities," including other panels depicting Minerva, Juno, and Venus and Cupid, all painted for the same commission. Although we do not know who owned the Diana originally, it is very suggestive that our first record of the painting is in a French collection. Through the early decades of the sixteenth century, Milan was governed by the French, who grew to admire Milanese artists, above all the leonardeschi. It is possible, therefore, that the Diana was painted specifically for a French patron toward the end of Giampietrino's career.