"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Livia Da Porto Thiene

This 1552 portrait of Livia da Porto Thiene and her daughter Deidamia by Veronese (Paolo Caliari) hangs in the Walters Art Gallery in Washington DC.
 "Veronese's majestic, full-length portrait of the countess and her eldest daughter Deidamia, born in 1545, was originally accompanied by one of her husband Count Issepo (Giuseppe) da Porto and their son Leonida (see photograph). These paintings were most likely installed in their palace in Vicenza, which had recently been built by Andrea Palladio (1508-80). The portraits would have been placed so that it would appear as if the family were standing in niches inside the palace.

Veronese was famous for his use of color and mastered the depiction of luxurious textures and fabrics. The countess carries a  marten's fur with a head of gold and enamel, nearly identical to that displayed in the case below. The floor strip below is a later addition." -- The Walters Art Gallery

Martin's Head

A martin's head of enameled gold, rubies, garnets and pearls sits in a case at the foot of Veronese's painting.
 "This jeweled marten's head is nearly identical to that attached to the fur held by the countess in Veronese's painting (above) and is displayed here in a similar way. The animal was associated with childbirth, and wearing its fur was believed to increase a woman's fertility and protect her during pregnancy. Since antiquity, the marten had been thought to conceive through its ear or mouth (and therefore chastely). The dove on the creature's nose may be a symbol ofthe Holy Ghost and further allude to Mary's miraculous conception. This would add to the amulet's protective powers." -- The  Walters Art Gallery

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