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Portrait of a woman

northern Italian school

This work was first documented in connection with the Borghese Collection in the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario. It would appear to be a product of the school of Cremona, probably dating to about the mid-16th century. The elegantly dressed woman, no longer young, is portrayed here with a light blouse laced beneath her neck, a cloak and a headdress. An ancient krater, barely visible in the background, indicates the woman’s high social rank.

Object details

metà del XVI secolo
oil on canvas
62 x 50 cm

Salvator Rosa ( 77,5 x 67,5 x 7 cm)


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 39); purchased by Italian state, 1902.



The provenance of this work is still unknown. It is only documented with certainty in the collection of Casino di Porta Pinciana from 1833, when it was described as ‘in the style of Titian’ by the compiler of the Inventario Fidecommissario.

While Adolfo Venturi (1893) attributed it to Bonifacio de’ Pitati, both that name and that of Giovanni Antonio Fasolo (see della Pergola 1955) were rejected by Roberto Longhi (1928), who rather ascribed it to anonymous painter of Cremona active around the mid-16th century.

For her part, Paola della Pergola (1955) was not persuaded by any of these suggestions, publishing the portrait as by an unknown painter of the 16th century. Her proposal was more or less accepted by Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006), who claimed that it was by a northern Italian artist.

There is no doubt that the quality of this work, which has never been restored, is above average. Its painter was evidently familiar with artistic developments in mid-16th-century Veneto, sensitive to those trends which a generation later would lead to Gervasio Gatti, called Sojaro. Both the fixed gaze of this anonymous noblewoman and the sort of domestic realism of the painting recall several severe figures executed in Cremona in the mid-1500s, hovering between the Roman-Paduan style and that burst of energy from Brescia in the wake of Moroni.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 25;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 81;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 186;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 141, n. 251;
  • 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. 35.