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Portrait of a woman

Manner of Pippi Giulio called Giulio Romano

(Rome c. 1499 - Mantua 1546)

Attributed in the Inventario Fidecommissario to an unknown painter of the Veneto school, this panel forms part of a substantial group of works which in the past were all attributed to Giulio Romano. With the exception of the beautiful Madonna and Child with The Infant Saint John the Baptist (inv. no. 374), today critics rather believe them to be products of Giulio’s flourishing workshop, most likely executed from cartoons by the master.

The identity of the lavishly dressed woman portrayed here is unknown. Her strongly defined features and the fixity of her gaze suggest that the artist, while not highly skilled as a painter, was certainly capable of profound introspection.


Object details

metà XVI secolo
oil on panel
cm 60 x 50

19th-century frame decorated with four corner palmettes, 73 x 70 x 8 cm



Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 33); purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903/1905 - Luigi Bartolucci (disinfestazione dai tarli);
  • 1936 - Augusto Cecconi Principi, pulitura di vecchie vernici opacizzate e alterate, verniciatura;
  • 1953 - Alvaro Esposti, pulitura, ripresa delle parti mancanti.).


The provenance of this work is still unknown. It is listed in both the Inventario Fidecommissario and the catalogue by Giovanni Piancastelli (1891) as a work from the ‘school of Paolo Veronese’ (1833). The portrait, which was probably left unfinished both in the background and the attire, was at first variously attributed by critics to Dosso Dossi and Giulio Romano. While Adolfo Venturi (1893) rejected the former name, Roberto Longhi (1928) was not persuaded by the latter; yet neither of these scholars proposed specific alternatives, opting rather – at least in the case of Longhi – for an unknown Roman painter of the 16th century.

On the strength of an oral opinion given by Federico Zeri (reported in della Pergola 1959), Paola della Pergola published the work as by Giulio Romano, a name which was certainly quite familiar to the painter of this panel, who in all likelihood was connected to the prolific workshop of the Roman master. Indeed critics since have rightly hesitated to unequivocally attribute the work to Giulio himself (Herrmann Fiore 2006).

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 56;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 82;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 186;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p. 91, n. 128;
  • 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. 37.