Portrait of Ginevra de Benci, Leonardo da Vinci

Portrait of Ginevra de Benci, Leonardo da Vinci
Portrait of Ginevra de Benci, Leonardo da Vinci

The high intellectual content of Renaissance painting means that on numerous occasions artists have endowed their canvases with hidden content through allegories or details that may go unnoticed by the inexperienced eye, notwithstanding if any Renaissance artist has The attention of the general public and experts due to the intricate iconographic program of his canvases has been Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo's work often seems easy to decipher, the themes themselves are not too difficult to identify and the elements of his paintings are a priori simple, however a more detailed study of any of his canvases leaves the trail of iconic symbols that convey a much deeper meaning to us.

300px-Leonardo_da_Vinci, _Ginevra_de'_Benci, _1474-78

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) is one of the most prominent Renaissance artists in the world. Outstanding figure of humanism Leonardo is the prototype of a versatile man who not only harvested the field of painting or architecture but was also an outstanding engineer, urban planner and even a poet. During his lifetime, the artist enjoyed great fame both in Italy and in Europe, working for some of the most prominent political personalities of his time.

On this occasion we find ourselves before the portrait of a young lady who has been identified with Ginevra de Benci, it is a canvas formatalmost quadrangular, measuring thirty-eight centimeters wide and just over thirty-seven centimeters high, but it is considered that originally should have been larger and later –for no apparent reason- it should have be trimmed. The work now on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, USA, was painted in the 1970s around 1474 or 1476.

According to some hypotheses, the young Ginevra was an outstanding lady of the Italian Renaissance who used to manage among erudite circles and intellectual gatherings, however the lady was married by order of her father with a prosperous merchant much older than her.The portrait made by Leonardo could represent the young lady before her weddingand behind her the juniper tree that alludes to her name

However, other deeper interpretations have emerged regarding this portrait. Some authors maintain that the work that concerns us herewas commissioned by the diplomat Bernardo Bembo, with whom Ginevra had a platonic relationshipbecause her love was prohibited. The lovers would never abandon themselves to love but it is true that they continually dedicated poems to each other and spent a lot of time together. Perhaps in this sense it is possible to understand why some of the elements of Bembo's coat of arms, the laurel and the palm, appear on the back of the canvas. Both are adorned with a watermark that reads: Beauty adorns virtue, an allusion to the lovers' platonic relationship. For anotherOn the other hand, studies with infrared rays have detected that under the representation of Ginevra Leonardo had represented the words Honor and Virtue, which also appeared in Bembo's personal emblem.

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