Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Leonardo da Vinci

Lady with an Ermine
Oil on wood panel
54 cm × 39 cm (21 in × 15 in)
Czartoryski Museum, Kraków, Poland

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452 – 1519), was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.

The sitter has been identified as Cecilia Gallerani who was the mistress of Lodovico il Moro. At the time of her portrait, Cecilia was about sixteen. She was one of a family, neither rich nor noble. Cecilia was renowned for her beauty, her scholarship, and her poetry.
Her gaze is directed neither straight ahead, nor towards the viewer, but towards a "third party" beyond the picture's frame. In her arms Cecilia holds a small white-coated stoat, known as an ermine. "The ermine prefers to die rather than soil itself"(Leonardo's record in his note).
This work in particular shows Leonardo's expertise in painting the human form.