Lavinia Fontana

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Lavinia Fontana
Album of Portrait Studies
14 3/4 x 11 1/4 inches (334 x 284 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
IV, 158a-s

This album contains of nineteen portrait drawings by Lavinia Fontana. Although the works must have remained together from the time that they left the artist's studio, the album itself dates from the early eighteenth century, for the binding is evidently the work of the Konstboeken-binderij in Amsterdam, ca. 1705-40. The collection includes portrait drawings, both men and women of fashion and priests and nuns-presumably Lavinia's patrons in Bologna and Rome-as well as a self-portrait. The most striking image, however, is a portrait of one of the daughters of Pietro Gonzales. The members of this family suffered from hypertrichosis, which causes the body to be covered with hair. The portrait in the album has traditionally been identified as Antonietta (otherwise known as Tognina), but it could alternately be her elder sister Francesca: both of the sisters are pictured in Ulisse Aldrovandi's Monstrorum Historia, which was only published posthumously in 1642, but which is based on observations that Aldrovandi made in the 1590s. Lavinia is not well known as a draftsman -- this album and a cache of drawings in the Uffizi represent most of her known graphic work -- but a good number of her paintings survive. She is best known as a portraitist, but she was also responsible for altarpieces, smaller scale devotional paintings, and secular easel pictures. The portrait drawings in this album were likely to have been made over a period of years.
Includes the artist's self-portrait (IV, 158b).

Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston (1739-1802), Broadlands, near Romsey, Hampshire, and London; his son, Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865), Broadlands and London; his widow, Mary (née Clavering), Lady Palmerston (d. 1869), Broadlands; her grandson, the Rt. Hon. Evelyn Ashley (1836-1907), Broadlands; his sale, London, Christie's, 24 April 1891, as lot 200, "A Volume of Portraits - in colours - by Lavinia Fontana" (bought by Murray for 4.17.6); Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), London and Florence; from whom purchased through Galerie Alexandre Imbert, Rome, in 1909 by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), New York (no mark; see Lugt 1509); his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), New York.
Associated names: 

Palmerston, Henry Temple, Viscount, 1739-1802, former owner.
Palmerston, Henry John Temple, Viscount, 1784-1865, former owner.
Palmerston, Emily Lamb, Viscountess, 1787-1869, former owner.
Ashley, Evelyn, 1836-1907, former owner.
Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913, former owner.
Morgan, J. P. (John Pierpont), 1867-1943, former owner.


Cantaro, Maria Teresa, Lavinia Fontana, Bolognese: "Pittora Singolare" 1552-1614, Milan, 1989.
Lavinia Fontana 1552-1614, exh. cat., Museo Civico Archeologico, Bologna, 1994.
Lavinia Fontana of Bologna 1552-1614, exh. cat., National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C., 1998.
Murphy, Caroline, Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-Century Bologna, New Haven, 2003.

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