Portrait of a Woman with a Hairnet
Gift of H. P. Kraus, 1961
The artist who drew this sensitive portrait remains unknown. It probably was made during the first quarter of the sixteenth century by an individual from the Veneto or Lombardy working in the circle of Giovanni Bellini, Francesco Bonsignori, or Bartolomeo Veneto.
The sitter's headdress derives from Leonardo's Portrait of a Woman, known as La Belle Ferronière (Louvre, Paris). Painted in the 1490s, that work was much studied during the early years of the sixteenth century.
Inspired by earlier northern European models, Venetian artists of the sixteenth century approached portraiture with a new naturalism. Portraits of individuals were commissioned to document physical likeness as well as social status, often conveyed through opulent clothing and lavish settings. Initially, most sitters were portrayed in strict profile, much like the depictions on ancient coins. Later, evocative three-quarter or frontal views dominated, inviting a more direct and intimate relationship with the viewer. In Venice and northern Italy, group portraits became fashionable. The artist Palma Giovane, for example, produced numerous quick sketches of his large family and wide circle of friends. Through the work of such artists as Carpaccio, Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto, Venice established a remarkable portraiture tradition.