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Portrait of Ginevra Aldrovandi Hercolani
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Portrait of Ginevra Aldrovandi Hercolani

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Description Ginevra Aldrovandi's husband, the Bolognese senator Ercole Hercolani, died in 1593. Her elaborate mourning costume-with costly brocade, lace, and pearls-indicates her high social status. She holds a handkerchief, suggesting the tears she shed at her husband's death. The lapdog is her pet, but it also carries symbolic significance. During the 16th century, a widow who did not re-marry, staying faithful to her husband's memory, was often compared to a dog that was faithful to its master.
  • Old Mistresses: Women Artists of the Past. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1972.
  • Lavinia Fontana, 1552-1614. Museo Civico Archaeologico di Bologna, Bologna. 1994.
  • Italian Women Artists from Renaissance to Baroque: Commerce, Court and Convent. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington. 2007.
Provenance Hercolani Collection, Bologna [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome, prior to 1881[mode of acquisition unknown] [1881 catalogue: no. 194; 1897 catalogue: no. 180]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902

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ca. 1595 (Renaissance)
oil on canvas
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 45 1/4 x W: 37 3/8 in. (114.94 x 94.93 cm); Painted surface H: 45 1/4 x W: 37 3/8 in. (115 x 95 cm); Framed H: 54 1/4 x W: 46 3/8 in. (137.8 x 117.79 cm)

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