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Portrait of a Widow

Veneto school

This painting has been identified as the work mentioned in the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario with an attribution to the school of Titian. Although the canvas is in poor shape, as paint has fallen off in numerous places, it can still generally be ascribed to the school of Veneto, the product of an artist who was influenced by 15th-century models of portraiture.

The woman is portrayed in three-quarter pose against a dark background. Perhaps a widow, she wears a black veil around her head.

Object details

inizio XVI secolo
oil on canvas
cm 32 x 21

Salvator Rosa, 43 x 93.5 x 4 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 29; Della Pergola 1955) purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1953 - Mauro Manca


The provenance of this painting is still unknown. It is in fact first documented as forming part of the Borghese Collection in the Inventario Fidecommissario of 1833, where it is listed as a work in ‘the style of Titian’. This description was accepted without reservations by Giovanni Piancastelli in his hand-written Notes (1891) but partially revised by Adolfo Venturi (1893), who eliminated any references to Titian and published the portrait as a product of the ‘Venetian school’. For her part, Paola della Pergola (1955) considered it a work still connected to the models of 15th-century painting, publishing it as by a ‘master of Veneto’. Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006) was in agreement, although she extended the area of the artist’s provenance to the hinterland. Indeed, this well-executed painting – which may be a fragment of a larger composition – betrays the modes of a painter of the Veneto hinterland who was certainly influenced by 15th-century models, more specifically by the mature production of Cosmè Tura, who seems to be the source of that vigorous, geometric construction of the forms. At the same time, traces of the Flemish style are visible in the detailed rendering of the skin and of the signs of old age.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 16;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 118;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 196;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 118, n. 211;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 66.